“Save me from this torturous life, bhaiya [brother]. Now they are demanding Tk1 lakh. They are starving me, not even giving me water to drink. Please help me.”
Such were the pleas of one housewife Sabina, daughter of Rafique from Thana Para in Kushtia City. She proceeded to tell her story over the phone but the line got interrupted.
Calling her back, she said: “They lured me to Saudi Arabia with the promise of a job with a monthly salary of Tk20,000-25,000 in a Saudi Arabian company, Sahara.”
“But instead, they sent me to a household to be a maid, where they often beat me up accusing me of stealing.” she continued.
Sabina got to know she had been sold to the household for a period of 3 months for only Tk7,000. Breaking down in tears, she described her plight over the phone to a local reporter, Sohel Parvez.
She implored: “You are a journalist; you must have a lot of contacts. Please do something to take me away from here, or I will not have any option left but to kill myself.”
Sabina's husband Kuddus, a bus conductor, could barely make ends meet. To ease pressure and the financial burden, Sabina left for Saudi Arabia on January 5, leaving behind a sick father and a five-year-old son.
With the help of a middleman, she went to Saudi Arabia with dreams of providing treatment for her father and an education for her son. But now, Sabina is fighting for her life and to come home safely.
Upon visiting Thana Para to verify her story, Sabina's mother said: “My daughter contacted one Halima, wife of Raijul from Kuthi Para village to go to Saudi Arabia without having to pay anything. A few days back Sabina called me and started crying.”
“She said the middlemen demanded Tk1 lakh to let her go,” she said. “Otherwise, they are going to torture her till she is forced to take her own life.”
Sabina's mother has been running to different places to save her daughter, but no one has been able to help her.
“We are poor. How are we going to manage this money?” she said helplessly.
After contacting the middleman Halima, she said: “I send people on a commission of Tk5,000 to a man named Mostofa, whose office is in Dhaka. I do not know what happens after that.”
When asked about Sabina, she replied: “I do not know what happened to her after I sent her. When Sabina’s family asked me about her, I talked to Mostofa, who said Sabina will not be able to return without the payment of Tk1 lakh.”
Through Halima, Mostofa was contacted over the phone, where he said: “My agency is called Bangladesh Export Corporation, registration no 803. I work as an agent here. A girl named Emily supplies us with housemaids from Kushtia. We send a lot of girls in this manner.”
“Sabina can come back once she has paid the amount it took to send her to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Mostofa's agency is headed by one Hasan, the agency’s chairman. After reaching him over the phone, Hasan claimed that when people did not like staying abroad, they made such excuses, and that the allegations of torture were false.
He would not be able to do anything about the matter unless there was a written complaint, he added.