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Dhaka Tribune

Children cry for mothers who are abroad for work

Update : 24 May 2013, 05:56 AM

A number of Bangladeshi women who have recently gone abroad for work, mostly as housemaids in Jordan, have left behind children pining for their mothers and families anxious for their wellbeing.

 “’Ma’, ‘ma’ – no other word comes out of the child’s mouth,” Saira Banu said of her five-year-old grandchild. The child’s mother, Alefa Khatun, went to Jordan on April 9 to work as a housemaid.

“The child will only be pacified when my daughter is brought back from Jordan,” Banu, who is from Kushtia, told the Dhaka Tribune over phone on Wednesday.

Banu last talked to Alefa over phone on Tuesday. Banu alleged that her daughter is being kept confined in an office, beaten up and given only a glass of water in three days.

“Alefa can be brought back if Tk60,000 is deposited at the Sonali Bank,” Banu said, quoting her daughter.

The families of many such female migrant workers have applied to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), requesting help to bring them back home.

“We have written to the first secretary of the Bangladesh embassy in Jordan to help repatriate Alefa,” a BMET official told the Dhaka Tribune, on condition of anonymity.

The official also claimed that Alefa Khatun was being tortured every night, and she has failed to adjust to the climate in the Middle Eastern country.

In the letter addressed to the first secretary, a Bangladeshi citizen, Ibrahim (mobile no-00962799536408) said Alefa could be sent back home if Tk1,20,000 was sent to one Khamiz Fahim Ahmed Abu Jaid (mobile no-00962799536408) through Western Union.

Alefa went to Jordan through Razia Trade International, a recruiting agency.

The agency owner, Kobi Abdus Sattar, claimed Alefa was doing fine. However, she has not been working for the last fifteen days, he said, without elaborating.

“The matter regarding Alefa is in the knowledge of the first secretary,” Sattar said over phone.

The BMET official said the bureau had received several requests to bring home some female workers from Jordan. But employers there do not agree to send them back, as they paid over $2,000 to hire a worker.

Some 9,548 women have gone to Jordan for work since January this year, according to BMET Director (immigration) Mizanur Rahman.

Fulsara Khatun, from Comilla, has also applied to BMET to get her daughter back from Jordan as her child has fallen seriously ill.

In her application, Fulsara Khatun said: “My daughter, Johora Khatun, went to Jordan to work as a housemaid on January 8, and now she wants to return home as her four-year-old son is suffering from cancer.”

“I am very poor and cannot work due to old age. I was compelled to send my daughter to Jordan to work as a housemaid,” Fulsara said.

BMET Director General Begum Shamsun Nahar said they discourage those with small children to go abroad, but there are some cases where their suggestion is not followed.

Sumaiya Islam, director of Bangladesh Ovibashi Mohila Sramik Association, said poverty force these women to seek work overseas.

“We discourage those who have children, but they are determined to go,” Sumaiya told the Dhaka Tribune.  “We also tell them during training: ‘You will not be able to listen to the voice of your children for the next three years’, but they don’t listen.”

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