THE government is in talks with Oman authorities for repatriation of at least 18 women who were trafficked to the western Asian country under the guise of securing employment.
Home Affairs ministry permanent secretary Aaron Nhepera yesterday told the anti-trafficking inter-ministerial committee meeting in Harare that there could even be more Zimbabwean women in Oman working as labourers and or sexual slaves.
“Our prosecution, which involves the police and the courts, are handling 18 cases, but we do know there could be as many as 30 people as some of them haven’t reported yet.
“In my way of estimation, we could be having as many as a 100 people in Oman
“We have heard our young women being lured to Oman to work as domestic workers and the conditions in which they are working there is very much akin to slavery,” Nhepera said.
He said the government was concerned about that development and the committee had been deliberating on ways which could be used to help Zimbabwean citizens in that situation.
“This situation is certainly deplorable and unacceptable and plans have been put in place to repatriate our citizens in that country. We have just started our engagement with the government of Oman through ministry of Home Affairs, but we have made a resolution to dispatch our investigation committee to Oman as soon as possible to talk to the victims and check if there are no other victims,” he said.
Nhepera attributed the occurrence of trafficking to the current harsh economic situation in the country which has led to increased poverty and unemployment.
He also said some of the women trafficked to Oman would have been divorced and left to fend for the children.
Meanwhile, Nhepera urged citizens to be vigilant as cases of trafficking continue to occur.
“I would like to advise our citizens to be aware of that threat which is quite pervasive throughout the whole country. It’s not just trafficking in persons where people are going out of the country, trafficking in persons is even happening locally where people are being removed from their places to new places for purposes of exploitation in terms of labour or sexually.
“We have also had unfortunate situations where we repatriated people who had been trafficked to other countries for example in Kuwait but they are then trafficked again to other countries.”