The survey has also looked at the impact on spouses and children of overseas workers. Participants described having problems ranging from long-distance communication issues to behavioural changes in children that included drug and alcohol abuse.
“Many problems arose after my husband left,” a female respondent from Baitadi said. “It became difficult for us to understand each other’s situations. I couldn’t see my husband’s pain, and he couldn’t see mine.”
The study looked at how society perceives women whose husbands work abroad, and leave them to care for in-laws and extended families.
Many female spouses developed mental health issues triggered by abuse from in-laws and the community at large, and in some cases sexually assaulted by family members. Wives of workers back in Nepal were disproportionately judged and criticised by the community.
“My neighbour lives with her in-laws, but the house isn’t safe for her,” a female participant tells interviewers. “Six years since her husband left many unpleasant things have happened to her. Her brother-in-law raped her, but no one has spoken out or helped her.”
In cases where it was the woman who migrated for work, household chores like cooking, cleaning, and washing, and caretaking were found to have been deferred to other women in the household, although some men said that they had assumed those responsibilities following their wives’ departure.
“I have a lot of things I need to do now,” said a male respondent whose wife is overseas. “When my wife was here, I never had to clean or mop the house. I do all that by myself now. I also wash clothes and take care of my parents.”
Nearly 90% of families used remittance sent from abroad for household expenses, 81.2% to pay off loans, and only 15.3% responded that they put some money aside as savings.
Read also: Mindful of migrants’ mental health, Upasana khadka