Returnee Female Migrants Require Reintegration in Bangladesh

The Saudi-returnee women domestic helps are not getting supports from the government due to lack of reintegration program though they were sent to the Arab Kingdom through official channel.

Even the ministry of expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment does not acknowledge the number of the returnees and their workplaces sufferings in Saudi Arabia.

According to workers and rights activists, since January this year,  at least 1500 Bangladeshi house maids back home from the Arab country because of abuse at their employers’ houses.

They faced different types of exploitations such as excessive work, denial of wages, sexual and physical assaults.

Families and even societies have not accepted many of the returnees easily. They are residing at their relatives’ houses. Besides, maximum returnee women were sick and mutely shocked.

Without long-term supports, the women will not be able to rebuild their lives, they observed.

Several women claimed that they did not get any assistance from the government. Even no representative from government offices concerned communicated with them in this regards.

Because of extreme level of tortures many of them became traumatised. At least 20 women faced severe psychological trauma and took treatment at National Institute of Mental Health upon their return home, a representative of BRAC migration programme said.

No official came at the hospital at least to know what about their condition, said the BRAC representative who looks after some mentally shocked women.

 Momena, mother of Shamima (not real name) said no one from government office communicate with them.

“My daughter is still very weak and mentally shocked as her master maltreated with her,” she said.

She underwent treatment at a city hospital. But it is necessary to long-term treatment to help get back her normal life, she added.

Bilkis, another Saudi returnee said she did not get cooperation even from union parishad member.

 She begged help from union parishad member when her husband warned that he would divorce her.

“Instead providing support, union member suggested her husband to divorce her,” she added.

 About 250 women workers returned from Saudi Arabia each month, said Shariful Islam, head of BRAC Migration Programme. Women are returning home with broken-leg, burned body as they were faced physical tortures.  

Sexual assault is a common complaint of the women. “The government should take responsibility of the women mainly as they were migrated in regular channel,” he said. 

But unfortunately, so far women did not get visible supports from the government sides, he added.

When contacted, officials at the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment said they have no reintegration scheme for the KSA-returnee women.  They also don’t believe that maximum of the returnee women are victim of abuse.

Many times women form stories in favour of their returning home. Actually they are homesick, they said wishing undisclosed their name.       

However, the  MoEWOE minister Nurul Islam at a parliament session on June 18 said, a total of 369 women workers returned home from abroad this year.

Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam said at first the authorities concerned have to acknowledge the number of the victim workers and exploitations what they faced.

Then they should bring the women under a psycho-social and financial reintegration support. There is no way to avoid the sufferings of workers as they are building the nation, he added.

 Some NGOs and private sector are providing support. But it is not possible to bring all victim women under their programme.      

Aminul Islam, additional secretary of the ministry of EWOE said, they have no reintegration programme.

“It is a vast issue. So if we want to introduce it we have to consider many things,” he added.

More than two lakh women went to the KSA since the signing of a recruitment deal in 2015.

Some 5,000 women returned home in the last three years on allegations of workplace exploitations.

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