Hyderabad: “I went abroad to earn and save some money for the marriages of my two daughters. My husband drives an autorickshaw, but his earnings are very less,” says Raheema Begum, who returned to India after an eight-month-long ordeal in Oman.
Raheema went to Oman in February, to work as a housemaid. “I was promised a job for one month and Rs 80,000 as payment, and I was told that there was a marriage in the house. I readily agreed because Khatija, the agent, assured me that the family was respectable and that she had earlier sent women to work for them,” she says.
Before going abroad, Raheema Begum supplemented her family income by stitching clothes. She earned between Rs 1,000 and Rs1,500 per month. “When I got trapped in Oman, my family had to borrow over Rs 1 lakh to pay the employer for my release, even though I was not paid any money in advance,” she says.
Humera Begum also left for Saudi Arabia in July. Her sister Reshma says that Humera was promised the job of a caretaker. “We are from a poor family and my sister mustered the courage to go to a place miles away to earn some money,” she says. She adds that Humera worked at an apparel store before going to Riyadh.
Lubna Sarwath, a social activist, says that several factors drive women to take up jobs in the Gulf. “The push factors are poverty and a lack of job opportunities for Muslim women due to the conservative attitude of families here. The pull factor is the lucrative salary offered, which is attractive to the women,” she says.