Migrant rights activists, returned women workers, trade union leaders, media representatives and government officials on Wednesday emphasized the need for enhancing protective mechanisms for the country’s women migrant workers at home and in the destinations.
Speaking at a workshop, they said that though women migrant workers have been contributing to the national economy by sending hard-earned remittances but they were neglected often facing various problems at different stages of migration due to lack of protections.
Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (BOMSA) in collaboration with Manusher Jonno Foundation and Global Affairs Canada organized the day long workshop on ‘Enhancement of Protection and Security of Women Migrant Workers’ in the city’s Diponpur-Bhojan Shala restaurant.
In the closing remark, BOMSA general secretary Sheikh Rumana said that “it is the responsibility of the state to ensure welfare and protect rights of the migrant workers including women migrants who are contributing to the national economy by sending remittance.”
She said that Bangladeshi women migrant workers were facing various problems at home and abroad and the concerned ministries were often overlooking the issues.
Citing examples, Sheikh Rumana said that women workers from Indonesia and the Philippines were in better positions abroad as their states have strengthened protective mechanisms for their migrants.
Trade union leader Abul Hossain said that Bangladesh had been developed some extent but condition of the expatriate workers has not been improved so far.
He said that Bangladeshi domestic workers were facing multi-facet problems at home and abroad and their problems amid COVID-19 pandemic increased.
Bangladesh Ovibashi Adhikar Forum (BOAF) chairman Nazmul Ahsan called for implementation of the relevant acts to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration.
He also stressed the need for sending workers abroad under bilateral agreement to protect their rights.
BMET official Golam Mowla urged the migrant rights activists and concerned people to be vigilant in the migration intensive areas to protect migrant workers from getting cheated.
He said that if everybody remained watchful, brokers would not be able to cheat migrant workers.
BOMSA director Farida Yeasmin who presented a keynote at the workshop said that women migrant workers were forced to work abroad as slaves under the Kafala (sponsorship) system.
“Though women migrants are supposed to be able to migrant abroad at free of cost, but they are often found paying from Tk 10,000 to Tk 100,000,” she said in her presentation.
Farida Yeasmin, also senior lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court said that it is a sad truth that the government enacted the Overseas Employment and Migration Act. 2013 but the law has not yet kept any specific provision for protection of domestic workers.
She suggested that protections of women migrant should be given top priority while negotiating with the migrant workers’ recipient countries.
Migration expert and independent consultant Aminul Hoque Tushar discussed overall issues of labour migration from Bangladesh, including the government mechanism and role of the recruiting agencies along with their middlemen.
BOMSA project coordinator Aysha Ali, senior journalist Owasim Uddin Bhuyan and some returnee migrants also took part in the closing session of the workshop.