Migrant right activists and migration experts on Monday urged the government to send the country’s female workers abroad in the diversified jobs beyond the housemaids.
They said that Bangladeshi housemaids who were employed in Middle East countries, especially in Saudi Arabia were frequently being victims of sexual abuses.
Speaking at a national dialogue, they also urged the government to protect the female migrants from middlemen and brokers who were regularly cheating migrants by charging migration cost despite the government’s claims of free cost migration for them.
The dialogue on ‘Migration Governance of Women Mobility, Employment and Access to Entitlements’ was organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit at BMET office in the city.
Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training director general Salim Reza who spoke at the dialogue as chief guest claimed that female migration has been taking place at free of cost from Bangladesh.
He said that the government was putting emphasis on grooming skilled female workers for overseas professions as caregivers, drivers, salesgirls and hotel assistants.
‘Really we do not want to send female workers in housemaid jobs,’ he said.
Bangladesh National Women Lawyers´ Association’s executive director Advocate Salma Ali said that 90 per cent of Bangladeshi female migrants returning home were sexually abused at their workplaces especially in Saudi Arabia.
‘Many of them do not tell real stories to family fearing of relation break up,’ she said adding that Bangladesh should not throw its women into lions’ cages.
She suggested the government to rethink about sending woman workers in Saudi Arabia as they were more vulnerable in this Arab country.
Dhaka University international relations’ professor CR Abrar who moderated the dialogue said that the migrant workers were not getting their legitimate wages.
The state must take responsibility to ensure that its migrants would not fall in bad situation abroad, he said.
CR Abrar, also executive director at RMMRU, said that the state owned BTV should disseminate necessary information of safe and free cost migration to make the migrant workers aware.
Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua stressed the need for proper implementation of the overseas employment and migration act 2013.
‘It is the responsibility of the state to take measure to uphold the status of the migrant workers,’ he said.
Manusher Jonno Foundation program manager Sarwat Binte Islam said that the authorities must look for alternative markets for female workers beyond Saudi Arabia as many female workers have returned home being abused and deprived of wages from there.
By grooming them properly, female workers could be sent to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, she opined.
BMET director Nurul Islam, Labour leader Rukonuzzaman Ratan, UN Women representative Topti Shaha among others spoke at the dialogue.