Manama: The number of distressed men seeking refuge at a national shelter for expatriates is lower than women, according to the centre’s head.
Faeza Khan said the Migrant Workers’ Protection and Assistance Unit currently houses 20 women and only one man.
The shelter in North Sehla operates under the supervision of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA).
“Men have a tendency to cluster together and help each other, while women have difficulties and they need security and protection from the streets immediately,” Ms Khan told the GDN.
“Though we have had many complaints from men, during the first three months of the shelter’s operations, most of them do not opt to take refuge in the shelter.
“We just had two men thus far living here – we earlier rehabilitated a man and now he has a job.
“At present we have one, who is disturbed and worried about his family back home in India and we are trying to settle his case of non-payment of wages and other violations.
“We do offer shelter to men when they come with a dire need, but what I have noticed is that they prefer to stay with friends.
“Perhaps to avoid that stigma of having been at a human trafficking shelter and fears that he may not be able to find another job with the new employer after being a victim of trafficking.
“Women are more vulnerable and if on the streets they will definitely be exploited by someone using them as housemaids or for the wrong purposes.”
The six-storey building has 16 fully-furnished three-bedroom apartments and is managed by the Bahrain Corporate Social Responsibility Society. Four of the floors are dedicated to the shelter and each has a gym with dedicated supervisors working round the clock.
Three meals and a snack per day are provided from external contracted caterers to the choice of the occupants, who are also provided with toiletries and laundry facilities.
Occupants also attend psychological and psychiatric sessions as part of an empowering programme.
“The second floor is for the men and the fifth floor is for the women,” explained Ms Khan.
“The middle floors are also shelters, which are kept ready to take in people if needed.
“The floors are managed with elevators that are accessed through finger prints only which ensures that men and women don’t get to access the floors that are not theirs.
“We also have sessions on rights education, art, craft, creativity, meditation and rehabilitation to help the people fight their situations better.
“Even if they are going back, I don’t want someone who suffered abuse in this country to go back home with bitter memories of their Bahrain days.
“This is a project close to my heart and we want to tell people that we are here to help them.
“If they are right by law, we are with them to fight the situation and to help them either go or stay with their dignity.”
The government shelter also has a 24/7 hotline call centre in seven different languages, a clinic that provides medical and psychiatric care, legal counselling, social services, and a training centre that aims to work with civil societies, schools, universities and clubs and resident expat communities to spread awareness among citizens.