The Ghana government has placed a temporary ban on recruitment of workers to Gulf countries after a hike in reported cases of abuse faced by migrant workers.
Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, announced the suspension on Thursday saying there is a freeze on issuance of recruitment licenses as part of measures to curb the abuses, state-owned newspaper Daily Graphic reports.
He added that the reported cases in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) among others border on national security.
This directive follows calls by several human rights activists to ban Visa-20 – visas issued solely to those seeking to travel to the Gulf as house helps.
Former Ghanaian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia had also called on the government in 2015 to ban the Visa-20 after he visited Kuwait where he met girls who had been taken to the gulf by recruitment agencies to do menial jobs but ended up facing degrees of abuses.
The Ghana Immigration Service said in a report in 2015 that over 2,000 young Ghanaian women were stranded in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon only after five months of reaching the countries through fake recruitment agencies that promised them lucrative jobs.
The report said the women were mostly subjected to sexual molestation and inhumane treatment and they cannot afford to return to Ghana.
Millions of women worldwide migrate to the Gulf to work as domestic workers through recruitment agencies. Their employers sometimes confiscate their passports and let them work longer hours without rest.
Some however realize their hopes for decent salaries and good working conditions.
In June 2015, Kuwait passed a law providing domestic workers with labor rights such as a weekly day off, overtime compensation, and annual leave.
Human Rights Watch calls on all countries to ratify the ILO treaty on domestic workers, and reform their labor and immigration laws to ensure that domestic workers have the same rights and protections as other workers.