Female overseas job seekers warned

HARARE - Desperate women seeking job opportunities overseas should do their homework before accepting “lucrative” offers which look suspicious as has happened to over 200 Zimbabwean women stranded in the Middle East country of Kuwait.

The Zimbabwean women were lured to Kuwait to work as housemaids but ended up being abused as sex slaves.

Recently businessman Wicknell Chivayo came to the rescue of 32 of the stranded women after he bought return air tickets worth $58 900.

Their rescue was facilitated by a parliamentary delegation led by National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda and chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs Kindness Paradza who visited the Gulf country after it emerged that several Zimbabwean women were stuck there.

Legal practitioner Tanyaradzwa Chingombe said individuals interested in trying their luck overseas or in any unfamiliar territory should conduct thorough research of the job opportunity presented to them.

“They should also seek advice from people with occupational and legal expertise. Another measure one can take to avoid trafficking is to contact the embassy of the country she intends to go to and make enquiries as to the legitimacy or lack of the organisation or individual purporting to offer her employment or work permits etc.

“The most important thing is ask detailed questions and get convincing answers. When it’s too good to be true, usually it isn’t,” said Chigombe.

Media practitioner Reyhana Masters said our country is going through an extremely challenging economic period and so it is inevitable that people are going to look for opportunities anywhere they can.

“My advice is that if possible always make sure you have an option to return home if things go wrong — an open return ticket for example.

“Never ever hand any documents over to anyone. Rather make certified photocopies that you laminate and hand those over.

“Even if it is hard, go with some extra cash that you never let anyone know that you have,” said Masters.

“Please check the credentials of the person you are going to, or are liaising with as you look for a job. Make sure you do research on the country you are going to and find out the conditions of labour and organisations you can turn to for help if something goes wrong.”

Action Aid communications officer Takaitei Bote said hard economic difficulties in Zimbabwe have left so many people desperate to do anything to make ends meet.

“Women are more vulnerable because they have the burden to care for families while men can afford to abandon the family leaving the women to look after children.

“My advice is that women should make sure that whoever is offering them employment is a credible source of jobs. In most cases most fake employers or those who are in human trafficking are not thorough in their interviews and in most cases you notice that the offer is too good to be true and be warned.”

Women activist Virginia Muwanigwa said her advice is prospective job seekers should take time to reflect on employment offers that seem too good to be true.

“They also need to seek more information about the cultures of those countries and as media and other players we have a challenge to raise awareness on international trends where immigrants have found themselves trapped after signing contracts whose obligations they did not fully understand. In cases of possible human trafficking there is need for a multi sectoral campaign to expose any exploitative activities.”

Misa-Zimbabwe administrator Annie Musemburi-Musodza said it is a pity “we are in this mess as women because of the state of our economy which is driving us to such unfavourable destinations in search of work.

“My advice to Zimbabwean women is that they should ask other people who are knowledgeable about some of the countries where they are offered attractive jobs.

“I would advise all women that most Arab countries do not treat black African people very well. They still treat us as slaves. You are better of working as a maid for a fellow Zimbabwean than for these people.

“The immigration department should put some mechanism in place to curb trafficking of young women for “commercial sex work” disguised as lucrative jobs in these oil rich countries.”

Chipawo general manager Chipo Basopo said as much as our economy is bad and people are hungry for jobs she still believes “one should be very sure of what she is getting involved in. Do much research and you should approach other people and seek for advice.”

Dancer Kessia Magosha could only say: “As they say in Shona, kusina mai hakuendwe. We need to make careful decisions before we look for greener pastures. All that glitters is not gold.”

TV producer Monalisa Mupambawashe-Chisango said first and foremost, the incident in Kuwait is quite sad. “These are wives, mothers, daughters and sisters of someone and one can’t imagine what the families are going through — my heart goes out to the women affected.

“Most women in Zimbabwe are struggling to make ends meet but we need to start finding solutions within our country. There are women in Zimbabwe that are doing very well; a lot of women are industry champions and doing very well.

“But if they do decide to travel they need to know about the country they are going to. Do as much research as possible; know the countries, health, safety, security, economic conditions, laws and customs.”

Singer Edith WeUtonga said it was becoming more complicated because in this case even some people at the embassy were said to be working in collaboration with the traffickers.

“Let’s just stick it out here in Zimbabwe unless one is going to a university. There is no job that will come as easy as that. All those countries have their locals in need of jobs so let’s not be so desperate to go out as the grass is not greener out there.”

Singer Loveness Wesa warned her fellow women and said there’s even worse places to go. “In some Asian countries there is business for organ harvesting and that’s really bad. Stay home please.

“Predators go to the less fortunate always... That’s just evil. I don’t have much to say, but stay home. Unless you know of a trustworthy person from your own home town or country already living there.”

Poet Barbra “Breeze” Anderson said as a woman in any situation it’s always important to consider safety first. “One of the biggest issues for women is sexual victimisation — I too sometimes forget this and have to constantly remind myself.

“I think only after you would have travelled overseas can you really know how the environment is like outside and I for one would not encourage just taking a call for work without further investigation.

“There is a lot of talk on the racial victimisation of black men abroad but we need to also look at the sexual victimisation of the African woman abroad too.”

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