Parliament has ordered the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development to come out with a comprehensive statement on the exportation of labour to the Arab countries which has cost lives and health of several Ugandans.
The order followed a matter of national importance raised by Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze as a follow up on Ugandan girls that were recently rescued from the Middle East where they say they were suffering a lot of torture and enslavement.
Nambooze had recently received a distress call from one of her constituents, a one Doreen Magezi, who revealed that she was going through hell in Jordan after having been promised a job by Marpie International Company, one of the labour agencies.
The Mukono municipality legislator told fellow MPs that when Doreen reached Jordan, she was placed on a stall and sold to the highest bidder at USD 3,000 and later handed over to a family that has been treating her inhumanely.
After the intervention of the House, Doreen was returned sick and shuttered together with other girls who are currently undergoing treatment in different hospitals.
Nambooze told the House on Thursday that it is so embarrassing that when Doreen arrived at the airport, she was arrested on the orders of the labour agent.
She argued that labour export companies have become so untouchable to an extent that they make life hard for their victims to report to any authorities.
“Today, 53 girls are stranded at our embassy in Dubai, these girls sent out a distress call to me yesterday that they ran from their masters in various homes because of mistreatment and that today our girls are bonded and treated more less like slaves,” Nambooze said.
Nambooze added that the girls have been told by the Ambassador in UAE that for him to process their travel back home, they need to pay back the money that was spent on them by their employers as well as giving the embassy Shs 1.5m in order to process their travel.
“I request you to order government to bring back the girls immediately and we also need a review of what is happening with the exportation of labour to the Middle East. I request that a suspension of exportation of labour for domestic work be put in place, investigate existing labour companies”.
She also appealed for government to set up a government-funded labour agency through which labour can be systematically proceeded as well as bargaining for better working conditions in the outside countries.
On average, 50 girls are exported to the Middle East on a daily basis.
In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah who was presiding over the House ordered that the Minister of Gender should immediately make a statement in response to the cries of Ugandans who are stranded in the Middle East.
“Members, this is not the first time we are handling this matter, our committees on Gender and Equal Opportunities have reported on this matter,” Oulanyah said.
Oulanyah however said there are two issues that need to be desegregated, noting that there is a category of people who are not licensed but continue to carry out exportation of labour. He said there are also people who go through properly licensed companies but land in the hands of poor employers.
“We should separate the issues and deal with them specifically; the Minister should come to the House with statistics and explain to this house on the different categories of labourers in the outside countries,” Oulanyah ruled.