With ‘lucrative job offers’ from Dubai, Punjab women fall victim to trafficking

These facts have emerged in an investigation carried out by the state police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) following 18 cases of trafficking of women to West Asian countries.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express Illustrations)

CHANDIGARH: Promising respectable and lucrative job offers, many Punjab women were taken to Dubai on a tourist visa, not a work visa. From Dubai, however, they were sent to other Gulf countries and pushed into menial and other jobs. 

These facts have emerged in an investigation carried out by the state police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) following 18 cases of trafficking of women to West Asian countries. The police have so far arrested eight suspects.

The SIT is headed by Superintendent of Police, Ferozepur, Randhir Kumar and started working a few days back after the state government ordered an investigation last month. In some cases, women duped by travel agents were able to return home to share their woes with SIT members.

These women mainly came from lower middle class or poor families and travel agents promised good jobs in Dubai in beauty parlours and as help in taking care of the elderly. They were supposed to go on work visas.

“They were taken to Dubai but on a tourist visa, and from there to Muscat by road. After a few days as their visa expired, they were told that they were illegal in the country and were pushed into doing menial jobs where they were poorly paid,” said a police officer.

He said the women were treated inhumanly; they were not given proper accommodation and meals. “When they asked the travel agents to send them back, they were told that they will have to pay another `2 lakh for their return. Since they were not financially sound, they had no option but to stick to their jobs.’’

The SIT is trying to unravel a network of agents spread across Punjab, Delhi, Kerala and Telangana. These travel agents use sub-agents and are given some amount of commission. These sub-agents check the family histories of the girls before recommending their names to their bosses.

“The passports of these women are taken away so it is difficult for them to return. We have a few cases where some of these women approached the Indian embassies,’’ said a senior officer. Sometime back 15 women had returned from Oman and narrated their ordeal. They told cops about being trapped by travel agents. So far, 23 women from Oman have been rescued, while another 14 are still trapped.

‘Inhuman treatment’

Superintendent of Police, Ferozepur, Randhir Kumar said the women were treated inhumanly; they were not given proper accommodation and meals. “When they asked to be sent back, they were told to pay another Rs 2 lakh for their return.”

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