Vigil on visit visas can curb human-trafficking in Bahrain


The visit visa serves as the ticket to imagined jobs in Bahrain. But when workers arrive, they find themselves trapped in poverty and left to exploitation.
“Some people are made to believe that they can find jobs when they arrive on visit visas. It is not true,” Dias said. “Most of the labourers whose cases we attend to say the same story – they entered Bahrain on visit visas.”
The issue came to the fore at the multi-sectoral forum on human-trafficking on Tuesday. Many workers, particularly from Asian countries including India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, are exploited because they do not have legitimate documents they need.
They end up either as free visa workers – buying work permits and visas on their own – or vanish as “stragglers” in the labour market. In many cases, visit visas for job-hunters had been arranged for a fee by someone is a “sponsor” and illegitimate recruiter. The job-hunters are made to believe that they are carrying work permits and not tourist visas.
While the authorities claim that there is no human-trafficking on a massive scale, an official admitted to gaps in checking the misuse of visit visas.
“The problem is not at the entry points. It starts after workers are in Bahrain,” said an official from the inter-ministerial committee working on a draft bill to criminalise trafficking and exploitation especially of women and under-aged workers.
According to government estimates, 40,000 free visa workers are in the country at any given time.

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