According to a study conducted by researcher Fatmah Al-Ramzi under the supervision of Dr Ramzi Salama from the parliament’s Studies and Research Sector, majority of the marginal workers in Kuwait are victims of visa traders.
The reports issued by the General Statistical Bureau in 2015 stated that non-Kuwaiti workers constitute the highest percentage in the labor market. Among them, 38.7 percent hold certificates below the primary level and 34.6 percent of them hold intermediate certificates. These are the categories targeted by the visa traders.
The study revealed that 1,000 fake commercial licenses along with the recruitment of 40,000 marginal workers were discovered during a campaign carried out by Ministry of Commerce in 2014. They received entry through contracts and were exploited by sponsors, causing problems for them, most notably administrative deportation.
The study also pointed out the US State Department’s 2014 report on Kuwait as per which no national effort was exerted to lead and coordinate to fight human trafficking. However, the situation has changed for the better in 2017, according to the latest report.
The Department of Studies and Research in the National Assembly conducted a study on the demographic structure as per which there is not only an imbalance between the number of citizens and expatriates, but there is also an increase in the number of expatriates, mostly marginal workers, along with a lot of security and social observations.
It added, “For more than three decades we have been hearing statements related to fighting the phenomenon of human trafficking but nothing has been translated into reality”.
According to informed sources, some of the visa traders have close family ties with some high-ranking officials in the state or with former and current MPs. They revealed that about 30,000 workers were reported absconding in 2016, which is about 80 per day.
The sources lamented that the illicit visa trade is the main cause for the widespread phenomenon of beggary. In other words, a worker has to beg in order to pay his sponsor for the renewal of his residency. The sources explained that these marginal workers are paying too much and are faced with huge problems. They pay too much to sponsors for entry visa, are employed in hard work that is different from what is mentioned in the contract, their passports would be detained by the sponsor in order to prevent them from travelling, and they are dismissed without receiving service indemnities. In addition, they face extreme humiliation.