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Tamil war widows from North-East trafficked out of Sri Lanka into slavery

Tamil war widows from the Northern and Eastern Province are being trafficked as slaves to the Gulf regions finds a feature report by Reuters.

Reports suggest that at least 1000 war-widows from the northern province may have been coerced into illicit job opportunities abroad which often puts them at risk of traffickers who sell them as slaves overseas.  

The report draws on the example of Nathkulasinham Nesemalhar, who had been promised  work as a maid for an affluent family in the Gulf state of Oman. Having taken up the offer to pay off her debts, she left the country to find herself enslaved with other women in a dimly-lit room with no ventilation and being locked up at night.

Speaking from Jaffna after government intervention, Ms Nesemalhar said,

“There were 15 of us. We never got paid. Finally we got back home and the Sri Lankan government intervened. People who have not gone through a conflict will not understand how difficult it is to take care of young children on your own. We suffered during the war and we are suffering now.”

The United Nations estimates more than a fifth of the 250,000 households in the north are headed by war widows.

A recent report by the International Cirisis Group (ICG) stated:

“Tamil speaking women in the north and east have arguably been more affected by the conflict and its aftermath than any other group in Sri Lanka. The legacy of war continues to impose hardships, particularly on conflict-affected women: lack of information on missing relatives, displacement from their land, economic deprivation, psychological trauma, vulnerability to sexual violence and exploitation, plus a militarised environment that reinforces much of the above.”