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Dhaka Tribune

Survey: 1 in 3 female expats physically abused at workplace

More than half or 52% face mental abuse, and about a tenth of them (11%) are subjected to sexual abuse

Update : 09 Oct 2021, 06:11 PM

More than one in three (35%) female migrant workers are physically abused at the workplace, at the hands of their employers, while working abroad, as per a recent survey.

Moreover, more than half or 52% face mental abuse, and about a tenth of them (11%) are subjected to sexual abuse.

The findings of the survey were released by the Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit (RMMRU) at a Dhaka hotel on Thursday, according to media reports.

The figures emerged in a recent survey conducted to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on female expatriate workers.

The survey was conducted on 153 respondents, both at home and abroad. Of them, 101 worked as migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

The findings showed 92% of the women were facing various problems, such as reduced wages due to the Covid-19 pandemic, maintaining family upkeep, and abuse at the hands of their own families.

Almost half of the women returning home were abused by their husbands.

While income decreased due to the coronavirus, workload and pressure increased. Before the pandemic, 92% of migrant families would regularly receive remittances, but during the pandemic, only 3% received remittances regularly.

Earlier, the expenses of 85% of the families were met with remittances, but during the pandemic, this was possible for only 5% of the families.

According to the findings, a woman on average spent Tk51,728 to go abroad. Prior to Covid-19, a female migrant worker's average monthly income was Tk22,331. During the pandemic, this figure dropped to Tk7,246.

Even before the pandemic, only 61% of women would receive their wages regularly. This further came down to 47% during the pandemic, while 55% were forced to return home without getting fully paid.

Speaking on the occasion, Mujibul Haque, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee for the Labour Ministry, said that employers in Saudi Arabia grossly misbehaved with female domestic workers.

He said that while the government was doing a lot of work in the migration sector, the bureaucracy was an obstacle in every area.

Problems of migrant worker families

Another survey was conducted on 4,884 respondents, including local or overseas migrants and their family members, to determine the social cost of migration.

The study showed that even if one member of the family was an expatriate working to earn a living, the others faced social taboo.

The taboo led to loneliness, added work pressure, physical-mental-sexual abuse, deprivation of healthcare, and other problems.

And, 89% of the female members of migrant families faced derogatory comments from the community.

Manzurul Islam, chief news editor of DBC News, said the government was deriving benefits from the earnings of migrant workers, but it was not giving them their deserved dignity.

Climate migration

Another survey pointed out that 35 million people of South Asia would be displaced from their homes by 2050 due to climate change.

In that time, one in every seven people in Bangladesh would be displaced, meaning, 13 million people would be displaced.

Many people are being forced to leave their homes due to river erosion and natural disasters.

People are also leaving villages and rushing to the cities due to economic compulsions.

RMMRU conducted these three separate surveys with support from the British Council's PROKAS project.

In highlighting the survey findings, RMMRU founder chair Tasnim Siddiqui,  Gloria Jharna Sarkar, MP, and British Council PROKAS project's Shireen Lira spoke at the event, among others.

The three segments of the event were moderated by AFP Bureau Chief Shafiqul Alam, ATN Bangla Current Affairs Editor Keramat Ullah Biplob and Bangla Tribune Chief Reporter Udisa Emon.

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