Govt Official Depicts Female Migrants as Sex Workers
RMMRU Seminar

A senior official of the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry said Wednesday that after migrating to the Middle East countries, some of the country’s female migrants were running away from workplaces by responding to their male partners due to meeting their sexual desires.

Speaking at a closing session of a seminar, EWOE ministry’s additional secretary Badrul Arefin said that there was nothing to say about those female workers migrants who were going abroad by choice from prostitution as they were running away with their chosen male partners.

He, however, said that most of the country’s female migrant workers were good enough to avoid getting themselves engaged with such illicit relations.

Badrul was speaking at the closing session of dissemination seminar on “The Study of Mapping and Scoping of Services for the Migrant Workers of Bangladesh at Various Stages of Labour Migration Cycle’.

Academics, migrants rights campaigners and migrant workers took part in the dissemination seminar, organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Reasearch Unit (RMMRU) at the senate bhaban of Dhaka University.

In his hilarious statement, Badrul also said the group of housemaids comparatively tried to choose better ‘heroes from Sakib Khan to Shahrukh Khan’ to make such relations.

About the garment workers who were employed abroad, he said that they worked and stayed in groups were able to protect themselves.

Referring to his previous jobs, Badrul said that two women workers committed suicide abroad while taking his charge but later, he found that 24 more female workers from Bangladesh committed suicide abroad.

As panel discussant, Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of WARBE Development Foundation,  said that female migrant workers were being sent to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states under Memorandum of Understandings.

Without taking protection measures, he said that female workers were being sent to the KSA where female workers were being used as sex slaves.

He also said mindset of manpower recruiters and officials were needed to be changed about migrant workers for the sake of migrant interests.

BRAC migration programme head Shariful Hasan said that the country’s overseas job seekers were heavily dependent on middlemen in every stages of their migration process due to lack of easy access to services of government.

Dhaka University Associate professors Syeda Rozana Rashid and ASM Ali Ashraf conducted the study found that a major gap exists in terms of government pre-decision services to migrants. Migrants depend more on informal agents than the formal recruiters and state institutions.

This means most aspirant migrants are unaware of the safe migration practices and tend to rely on their friends, families and local intermediaries.  It also identified that the government has yet to develop any emergency fund or policy for repatriation of stranded, deported or detained workers abroad.

There are hardly any formal support services available for migrants seeking to reintegration to society or to further pursue an international career.

Tasneem Siddiqui, founding chair of RMMRU moderated the programme. She said the presence of intermediaries were found in every stage of migration. Without involvement of middleman workers were not able to go abroad.

So the government should properly address the issue, she added   

Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, joint secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) emphasised on need for bringing the middlemen under a registration programme while they can be enlisted at Upazilla or district level database to make them accountable.

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