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Are we failing our workers abroad?

  • Published at 07:44 pm March 1st, 2017
Are we failing our workers abroad?

In most of our discussions on labour rights, the horrifying treatment of Bangladeshi domestic workers abroad often goes unaddressed.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the victims of domestic worker abuse are women.

Three female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia recently revealed to the Dhaka Tribune sickening details of the treatment they received at the hands of the employers, which included rape and beatings.

These women were also denied food, and were deceived in a variety of ways.

The worst part is, they have no place to turn -- most of them sell off all their possessions to be able to travel to Saudi Arabia, and become trapped into bondage.

This current practice of sending domestic workers to Saudi Arabia without any kind of protection, then, must be discontinued.

The Bangladesh government should not allow women to work as domestic help in Saudi Arabia unless and until our embassy in there can establish a system to make complaints to Saudi authorities whenever workers complain of abuse at the hands of their bosses, sexual, physical, or otherwise.

As things currently stand, the MoU for manpower exports to Saudi Arabia does not include any protective clause that would ensure the safety of female migrant workers.

This must be changed; unskilled Bangladeshi women who go to Saudi Arabia are vulnerable in many ways, and do not have the means to help themselves -- these women usually have their passports confiscated and do not even know how to get to the embassy.

Our migrant workers abroad are the backbone of our economy, and we have a solemn responsibility to protect them from sexual abuse and exploitation.

We cannot let them down.