Migrant workers, their rights campaigners and civil society members on Thursday called for ensuring migrant workers’ participation in the policy-making process to protect their rights and strengthen migration management.
The government of Bangladesh should bring changes in the recruitment system to ensure full protection of migrant workers at home and destination countries, they said.
They urged the government to properly enforce the relevant laws and policies to check trafficking and remove middlemen from the hiring system as they cheat the workers at different stages of migration.
The migrant rights defenders voiced the demands at a roundtable discussion on ‘Safe and Fair Migration: Towards Gender Equality and Workers’ Rights throughout the migration cycle.’
The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, in short GAATW, with Bangladeshi Ovibashi Mohila Sramik Association, in short BOMSA, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme, better known as OKUP and Karmojibi Nari organized the discussions at the BRAC Centre Inn.
In her welcome address, GAATW International Coordinator Bandana Pattanaik said that since the female workers were facing various problems in the destination countries it was necessary to ensure their security at work places.
GAATW works with NGOs in over 80 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America as well as North America to deal with human trafficking as a phenomenon intrinsically embedded with the labour migration process.
BMET director Nurul Islam in his welcome address said orientation, training and awareness motivation could reduce their exploitation significantly.
As BMET runs no reintegration activities for the returnee migrant workers he requested rights organizations and the civil society to provide the reintegration service to the returnees.
Karmojibi Nari director for programme Sunzida Sultana said that though laws and policies were made in Bangladesh at different times, the government was still unable to protect migrant workers’ rights.
BOMSA director Sumiya Islam said that most of the country’s migrant workers were unaware about the policies and the laws in place.
She said that Bangladeshi workers were paid lower wages than their compatriots from Sri Lanka due to Bangladesh government’s lack of bargain capacity.
WARBE Development Foundation’s chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that migrant workers were not protected at the destination countries as they were not sent under bilateral agreement.
He called for taking multilateral approaches like Colombo process, Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Global Forum on Migration and Development to solve the problems of the migrants in the destination countries.
BRAC migration programme head Shariful Hasan said that although many male and female migrant workers were coming back home traumatized as victims of abuse and torture the government was reluctant to address their problems.
He stressed the need for the introduction of programmes for the reintegration of the returnee migrants.
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam moderated the last session, which was also addressed by ILO representative Igor Bosc.
Panel discussants Rammy Hassan Shukr of Labanon, Chito Quinto of Kuwait, Shikha Silliman Bhattacharjee of India also spoke.
Returning women workers narrated their experiences abroad at the first season.