Gulf Gatekeepers: Gendered Im/Mobility in the Recruitment and Regulation of Indian Women Migrants
The expansion of temporary migration and consumption of gendered reproductive labour, has created a profitable niche for migration mediators to engage in exploitative labour brokerage. In an attempt to protect women from exploitation, the Indian state prohibits the emigration of women under thirty years and designates Emigration Clearance Required/Not Required (ECR/ECNR) status. Such interventions point to a paternalistic, patriarchal state-structuring of migration; one that pushes women to seek informal and precarious pathways that exacerbate the risks associated with migration. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews with migrants and civil society organizations in key migrant-sending states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, this paper will analyze the implications of and gender ideologies underpinning policies that aim to reduce vulnerability through restricting recruitment and migration. Rooted in ethnographic analysis among return migrants and emigrant households, the paper explores the social organization of domestic work recruitment and interlocking macro-institutional processes that influence transnational migration of women from India. I map the social networks and institutional actors that organize these labour flows and chart how bringing in local actors and return migrants into the formal migration apparatus can help mitigate risk and uncertainty in the process.