Women migrant workers in sorry state abroad

Dhaka,  Tue,  25 July 2017
Published : 09 Mar 2017, 00:14:37
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Women migrant workers in sorry state abroad

FE report


As Bangladesh observed the International Women's Day Wednesday with fanfare, the country's women migrant workers spoke of their sorry plight abroad.

A number of returnee migrant workers said after facing different forms of workplace harrassment, they tried to contact Bangladesh mission offices abroad but failed due to obstruction put up by employers. Thus they remained confined to places of their work.

They said although they were provided necessary contact numbers and names of contact persons abroad during their pre-departure training at technical training centres, they could not reach them as  employers barred them from going out of  their houses.

Besides, the phone numbers of contact persons remained unreachable.

The women migrant workers narrated their terrible experiences about their jobs abroad at a consultation on 'Protection of Rights and Dignity of Women Migrant Workers' on Wednesday.

The programme was organised by WARBE Development Foundation to observe the 'International Women's Day at the Dhaka Reporters Unity.

"When I tried to contact my recruiting agent to seek support to return home, his number was switched off," said Shipa, who came back from Jordan seven months ago.

Although she had the address of the Bangladesh embassy, she could not communicate with it as her employer did not allow her to go out of his house, she said.

She was denied her salary and other facilities that were committed by the employer.

"I got only four months' salary out of total 10 months of my job duration," Shipa said.

Rahima, another returnee, said she was forced to work at houses of three relatives of her employer. She could not take rest.

Even she was not given her salary. "I got Tk 14,000 as monthly wage against contracted Tk 20,000," she said.

The women migrants also said they had to pay extra charges to get jobs abroad as manpower recruiters and middlemen cheated them.

Some of them said they spent more than Tk 80,000 against the official fixed rate of only Tk 10,000 as migration cost for each worker.

Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of WARBE Development Foundation, moderated the consultation while Rina Roy, director, Manusher Janno Foundation, and Shahina Ferdous , deputy secretary at the Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry, among others were present.

They put forward some suggestions including ratifying the ILO Domestic Workers' Convention and making separate provision for women migrants in bilateral and multilateral deals with labour-receiving countries.

They also called for strengthening monitoring system to see whether women migrants are enjoying benefits at their workplaces as agreed upon in contracts. If necessary, they should be given legal support.

They also demanded recognition for domestic workers.

Between 1991 and February 2017 period, a total of 593,111 women workers went to countries of the Middle East with jobs. Of them, about 200,000 went in the last two years, according to Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) data.

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