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Regulation is not enough

  • Published at 12:02 am November 15th, 2019
Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

There is a need for a stronger monitoring system to make sure nothing happens off the books

It is no secret that female Bangladeshi migrant workers in Saudi Arabia frequently face terrible physical, sexual, and psychological abuses, not only at the hands of unscrupulous middle-men, but also their employers.

Migrant workers are some of the most valuable citizens of this country, as they go abroad in the face of tremendous uncertainty and send home remittance earnings which enrich the Bangladeshi economy -- and quite frankly, we are failing them, particularly the women who go to Middle Eastern countries hoping for a better life and better earning opportunities.

This newspaper has repeatedly editorialized on the need for the government to do a better job in protecting our workers from abuse and exploitation -- the PM herself has spoken out on the issue, emphasizing the need to raise awareness about ill-intentioned operators, particularly in the rural areas where the women are extra vulnerable to misinformation.

Furthermore, there is a need for a stronger monitoring system to make sure nothing happens off the books, and that we train up a skilled workforce, one that is less desperate to blindly take any offer given to them.

The problem, however, goes deep, and that is why it is been so hard to make a dent in these abuses up till now. 

Given the patterns of unethical practices of these so-called recruiting agencies, the solution would lie in nationalizing the industry; because with over 20,000 Bangladeshis being deported from Saudi Arabia, with 930 returning in a single week, it is clear that regulation is not enough.

The proposal is sure to be met with resistance from those getting rich off deceiving hapless workers, but it will do a world of good, not just for the welfare of our hardworking citizens, but for the economy as a whole.