Nepal has banned women under 30 from travelling to Gulf countries to work following reports of widespread abuse and exploitation.
Thousands of women — mostly aged under 25 — leave Nepal every year to take up menial jobs in cleaning or construction, with many heading to Gulf states.
"Young female workers are reported to have been exploited in Gulf countries," Information Minister Raj Kishor Yadav was quoted as saying in the Himalayan Times newspaper.
"So the cabinet decided to set the age bar for women migrant workers in the Gulf.”
Maiti Nepal, which works to prevent the trafficking of Nepalese women abroad, welcomed the announcement, saying many underage girls traveled to the Gulf for work and abuse was a major issue.
Nepalese women have been allowed to go to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar since 2010, when authorities lifted a 12-year ban imposed after the suicide of a Nepalese domestic worker in Kuwait.
Most Nepalese migrant workers are in India but the government and local charities estimate that between 20,000 and 70,000 are in Gulf countries, lured by the promise of better wages to help support their families back home.
Two to three domestic helpers a week seek refuge in Nepalese embassies in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait following alleged abuse from their employers, according to the Times.