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Expat secy: Complaints made by female workers not always true

  • Published at 03:17 pm May 20th, 2018
Sheuli Akhter Pinki embraces her father at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, after returning from Saudi Arabia on May 18 | Bangla Tribune

Government officials say many women lodge false complaints to come back home

More than 4,000 female workers have returned home from Saudi Arabia in the last three years after allegedly being physically and sexually harassed. 

They said they were sent to the Middle East with promises of decent jobs, but after going there they faced numerous harassments. Many of them returned home with broken arms and legs, reports Bangla Tribune. 

However, government officials said the complaints made by these female workers are not always true. 

“We have asked about these complaints during a meeting with the Saudi government but they said 45% of women return home within three months by breaching the agreement,” said Namita Haldar, secretary at the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment. 

She said many women lodge false complaints to come back home. “The information was revealed following interrogations.”

Shariful Hasan, head of Brac’s Migration Program, said: “Those who go abroad selling off all their belongings cannot return home so early if anything does not happen there. We saw wound marks on their bodies.  

“Why do we dare to send them to a country where they face torture over the years? There should be an end to it,” he said.  

According to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, in 2017, the number of migrant female workers was 12.19 lakh or 13% of the total number of migrant workers.

The number of migrant female workers increased since 2004 and it kept increasing until 2013. 

In 2015, the rate of female migrant workers constituted 19% of the total number of migrant workers, but the rate came down to 16% in 2016 and 13% in 2017. 

Beyond the government data, many more women went abroad illegally.

Organizations who work with female migrant workers said the women became victims due to lack of training and monitoring by the agents. 

Rubina (not her real name) returned home recently within a month after going to Saudi Arabia. She went to the country on April 20 via the recruiting agency, Stamford. 

Rubina complained that the recruiting agency sold her out to the employer in exchange for a large amount of money.

Rubina’s family members said they could not contact her since she went there. The recruiting agency did not cooperate with them in this regard either. 

Female workers who returned home complained that they were sold out by their agencies. Sometimes they flee the employer’s house when they cannot endure the torture. But they do not know where to go to lodge complaints, so they have to go back to the house.  

 Sumaiya Islam, director of Bangladesh Obhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (female migrant workers’ association), said many women were forced to return home after losing everything. 

She said the female workers neither know the language nor the Bangladesh embassy in Saudi Arabia to lodge their complaints. 

“The government will have to take the matter seriously. If it cannot ensure their safety it should stop sending them abroad.”

Sumaiya also said the Saudi government must ensure safety, dignity, and rights of the workers. 

The government prepared an agreement based on the earlier deal made in 2015 with the Saudi government. 

In the draft agreement, the government called on the Saudi government to ensure tortures do not take place, said Sumaiya.