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The girl traveling abroad...

Panorama Shymkent, 27/10/2006 E. Berdigalieva

The girl traveling abroad...

   Those people who leave to work abroad are often in search of a better life. They leave to escape low-paid work, lack of housing, apartment issues, poor education, low standards of living, etc... Given the socio-demographic situation in the country those who migrate are also often women. There are many attempts to move abroad because the supposed "advanced, foreign" thinking where there are more emancipated attitudes and habits and many seek foreign bridegrooms. In reality often the situations that many find themselves in the foreign destination are a hundred times worse than their situation in their homeland.
   Ayzhan S. worked in Shymkent in a profitable and thriving business for a high salary. She secured a nice dwelling with her sister, and even made enough income to assist her parents who still lived in a village. All was well until she got involved in a notorious business network.
   With the dream of the "Pink Mercedes", the award for the best distributor of Mary Kay cosmetic products, Ayzhan took out loans to purchase the products. Without waiting to sell those that she had Ayzhan continued to buy these expensive cosmetics with loans. Entrepreneurial excitement consumed her. After awhile those who loaned the money demanded their debts. At this point she had already quit her other job and had no money or income.
   Ayzhan had no option, but to escape abroad in search of work. Once she made money there she hoped to return the money to her creditors.
   She went with a friend to Cyprus after traveling through Moscow where she dealt with many different procedures to procure documents and a work visa through a company inviting them to work. Once they arrived in Cyprus they were met with rallies among the local population regarding unemployment in the country and against the work of migrants. On the streets there were outbreaks of hostilities and beatings of guests to the country. In order to avoid this Ayzhan and her friend decided to return home.
   The girls ended up with more debt, to relatives for the journey home, on top of the other debts, and now any money made had to go to repay their debts…
   Another woman, twenty-six year old Karina signed a contract to participate in a culinary arts training program in China. The contract included health insurance, provided housing, food, and travel to and from China. For the first month in Beijing, almost all of the about conditions were met and Karina really learned culinary arts. "Nothing foreshadowed the trouble I would experience until my passport was not returned to me," says the girl. After a little while she was alarmed and proceeded to demand it. She was asked for a ransom… 15,000 dollars. The circumstances were clarified later when it turned out the restaurant that promised to pay for all the girl's expenses had required her passport for that same 15,000 dollars.
   Eventually, Karina was forcibly removed to Hong Kong and forced to work in the sex industry. She experienced beatings, detention, and hunger when she was not in her home. Her Chinese bosses said that she could have her passport back after she had completed a period of commercial sex worker in restaurants and clubs.
   Some of the girls secretly managed to escape and contact the Kazakh embassy. Representatives there were able to help her return home. She received treatment, but had difficulty returning out of depression.
   Many young people are drawn to move abroad to learn, find employment, become wealthy, and to travel. No matter the reason, none of these people are immune to falling in the hands of traffickers.
   In the South Kazakhstan region those who wish to travel abroad should call the telephone hotline, 56-27-32, to talk to specialist, with the support of the European Commission, who work around the clock giving advice on traveling abroad and how to ensure your safety in case of unforeseen circumstances like these women.
   - So what are legal and safe conditions of employment abroad?
   "In order to legally work abroad outside of Kazakhstan, you must obtain a working visa - not a tourist or visitor visa, often a proposed replacement. Those visas do not give you the legal right to work. In addition to the work visa, you must obtain a contract that stipulates the conditions of your work and stay in the country that you have been invited to work in," says B. Zakutnyaya, psychologist at the Legal Center for Women's Initiatives "Sana Sezim".
   - What are the possible consequences if one is employed illegally?
   - In addition to the monetary penalty, or in some cases imprisonment, you will likely face deportation. Also illegal employment often leads to the most difficult, underpaid and harmful to human health work. Many often also experience irregular working hours, lack of medical care, or compensation in case of injury to health.
   Remember the case with our fellow Kazakh ... that died in South Korea, unable to withstand the excessive loads in the workplace. Only after intervention by high government officials was the body returned home.
   - What does one need to do first to travel and work abroad legally?
   - You need to have official work permits and working visas in the country to which to leave. All exit documents need to be processed (including medical insurance); even tickets should be bought at one's own expense. Do not risk taking the money in loans from the company based on later payments of wages! Most importantly, what is important to remember: do not give away your passport! Notarized copies of basic documents should also be packed and copies left at home.
   Before leaving, please also phone the embassy or consulate of Kazakhstan where are you going. When entering into an employment contract or contract it is necessarily to consult with a lawyer! Do not rely on your English. It is also recommended to buy a dictionary or phrasebook of the language of the country where you are going.
   If you are going through a company for employment abroad, be sure to check the availability and term of the license of this company!
   Keep your children, friends, loved ones! Do not let them make the wrong choice! For free and confidential assistance call 56-27-32.