12 July 2019

Ugandan Women Abused in Dubai Escape to Embassy

Parliament has directed government to explain measures put in place to rescue Ugandan girls who are trapped in foreign labour markets.

Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament Betty Nambooze (DP) yesterday told the House that more than 53 girls are stranded at the Ugandan embassy in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, with no hope of returning home.

"These girls sent out a distress call to me yesterday (Wednesday) that they ran [away] from their masters in various homes because of mistreatment," Ms Nambooze said.

We could not independently verify the claims.

Ms Nambooze added that several other Ugandan women are trapped in different places of work abroad.

She said the girls are bonded to their employment contracts, which makes it difficult for them to have exit in the event of trouble or abuse.

"When they demand to return home, they are asked to pay between $3,000 to $5,000 (Shs11m to Shs18m) as employers turn what would have been commission fees to labour agencies into a price for buying our people," the legislator added.

There are reports by victims and relatives that Ugandan diplomatic representations in countries of labour external respond is in a less-than-satisfactory manner to the plight of affected domestic servants.

Some victims, in accounts to the lawmakers, alleged that Ugandan diplomats in Dubai have asked them to pay up contract fees before the embassy can help them process their flight tickets back home.

Legislators also heard that some of the escapees spend nights on the verandah of the embassy building.

The deputy of Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, who presided over the House, tasked the Labour Ministry to urgently inquire into the matter and report its findings to Parliament not later than Tuesday.

Mr Oulanyah said the country should take full responsibility for its citizens.

"Do we have a system of informing our embassies where these children are taken? Do they have a system of knowing where they are, who has come and where they have been taken so that they have a track record of these people?" he asked.

Gender and Labour minister Janat Mukwaya was not available to respond to the concerns raised on the floor of Parliament, but she is expected to brief MPs on Tuesday.

Mr Oulanyah said there should be elaborate mechanisms for a distressed Ugandan to access or report to the embassy when in danger.

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