At least 22 Nepali women were arrested in Tanzania some three weeks ago for working illegally at a casino bar.
The immigration department of Tanzania arrested the Nepali women in the last week of December and has held them at an immigration shelter. Their cases have been forwarded to court and investigations are under way.
The immigration authorities in Tanzania have informed Nepal´s embassy in Pretoria, which is concurrently accredited to Tanzania, about the arrests.
“… case against those who are accused of trafficking the girls is underway. It is under investigation and more evidence is being collected by immigration investigators,” reads a letter sent to the embassy.
The Nepal embassy in South Africa has already informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) and other authorities in Nepal about the arrests and asked for funds to be arranged to repatriate them if required.
A top source at the embassy in Pretoria told Republica that the embassy is negotiating with the Tanzania authorities to settle the cases ´out of court´.
“The Nepali women should get proper compensation if it is found that they were forced to work illegally in dance bars. The cases remain under investigation but the major issue now is to repatriate them,” the source added on condition of anonymity.
According to the embassy, there is involvement of ´foreign nationals in trafficking Nepali citizens´.
It is learned that the women had travelled to Tanzania on visitor visas on different dates dating back five to eight months. Nepali citizens get visas on arrival in Tanzania.
Though there is no data on the number of Nepali women travelling to Tanzania, General Secretary of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) Kamal Tamang said, “There could be at least 2,000 women working in Tanzania who had travelled on visitor visas and are working there illegally.”
Hundreds of Nepali women are tricked by middlemen with promises of jobs in Europe and America. As the women are without work permits, they are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and harassment.
Meena Lopchan, Dibya Ghimire, Pratima Niraula, Priyanka Rai, Sasmi Deula, Susma Magar, Anita Pariyar, Rupa Shrestha, Pramila Lama, Bimala Adhikari, Sabita Ale Magar, Anju Shrestha, Uma Bhujel, Asha Roka, Sonu Tamang, Puja Lama, Srijana Pulami Magar, Ganga Maya Shrestha, Rama Bishunk and Sarita Tamang are among the women who were arrested.
Likewise, 20 Nepali women were also arrested in Kenya in the last week of December for working illegally in dance bars there. They have been released and five of them have already returned to Nepal with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The process is continuing to bring back the remaining Nepalis from Kenya.