Predicament of female migrant workers of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is now one of the major labour sending countries of the Asia Pacific region. Government figures in 2017 show that 750000-830000 Bangladeshis go abroad each year for work, and there is now a total number of 11 million of these migrants in 151 countries. The main reason for women migrating is to escape poverty and the limited employment opportunities in their home countries.
A UN study on "External Market Analysis for Women Migrant Workers of Bangladesh" showed that around 95 percent of the Bangladeshi women travel abroad as migrant domestic workers. There is a good demand for skilled and professional women, including nurses, caregivers, babysitters, drivers (taxi cab domestic), front desk attendants, receptionists and cashiers in the Middle Eastern countries, Europe and Asia but we are hardly sending skilled people. Although Bangladesh benefits from the remittances the women send home, most of their host countries provide poor living conditions and are failing to stop the torture and abuse of domestic workers, particularly in the Middle East.
"The increasing demand for female housekeepers has led to the rise of overseas female migration in the countries that provide very little ground for human rights exercise," said Syeda Rozana Rashid, associate professor of international relations at Dhaka University.
The plight of women migrants are unbelievable. Some of them are brutally abused and tortured that they become mentally sick. Razia (pseudonym) came back to her home after a year. Cheated by family and raped by employers in the Middle East, this teenage orphan girl now has nowhere to go except mental hospital. She went to Jordan and got employed as house maid. She had been repeatedly raped by multiple Jordanian men such as her employer, his son, his son's friends and his son-in-law.
Even her passport has different information regarding her age, she was just 15 but it was given 27. Not only that, ironically she was sent through a registered recruiting agency. The girl's uncle who had been receiving her monthly wage of Tk 13,000 for the last 14 months denied to identify her when he was contacted.
An UN women report says, "The social capital of female migrants, their ideas, skills, attitudes knowledge, contacts can contribute to socio-economic development, human rights, gender equality, and women's empowerment in their countries origin. But that might not for the sake of their life! The migration policy has been changing but their pathos are not. Like this girl there are many sufferers who are still working in vulnerable state.
It is high time the state had a mechanism to receive the women workers who return from abroad after being abused and tortured. There should be shelter and medical facilities for them. But pathetically no further step has been taken by the government.
Every day, women workers are coming back from Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries being physically and mentally tortured and sexually abused. What does the Ministry for Women and Children do? Where are the NGOs and safe houses for women and children?" The questions should be answered. Our country sent their female citizens not to be tortured but to be empowered.