Dhaka – Speakers at a programme on Monday urged the government to stop sending country’s women to Saudi Arabia as housemaids and also take steps for immediate returns of the female workers who are already being treated inhumanly by their employers there.They made the call at an event on ‘Emergency Support and Reintegration Programme for Vulnerable Returnee’ held at the BRAC Centre in the city under the joint aegis of BRAC and Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters of Bangladesh (LFMEAB).
KAM Morshed, Director of Advocacy for Social Change, Technology and Partnership Strengthening Unit of BRAC, said, what happened to the Bangladeshi female workers in Saudi Arabia is not a simple matter.
These expatriate workers send their hard earned money to Bangladesh and contribute in the economy. It is the duty of the country to ensure their security, so that no more such incident happen in future, he added.
LFMEAB President Md Saiful Islam said the women of the country must not go to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid; rather they should be employed with dignity in their own country.
He also called on the factory owners to employ the 4000 returnees, who survived physical and psychological tortures in Saudi Arabia, in their factories with proper dignity to support them to get back into a normal life.
Md Shariful Islam, Programme Head of BRAC Migration Programme, said, when the migrants send home remittances, authorities appreciate them, But, when they return home with trauma, nobody is there to support them.
“The returnees need emergency support and long term social and economic reintegration as even upon their return many of them are denied acceptance from their families”, he added.
He also said that BRAC has taken the initiative to rescue 125 workers from Saudi Arabia among which 90 workers have returned back to Bangladesh.
Speaking as the chief guest, Kazi Riazul Haque, Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stressed on building up skilled manpower and urged the government to ensure security and protection for the expatriate workers of Bangladesh in Saudi Arabia.
“It is a legal obligation for the government to protect the right of each and every citizen, specially those who have been contributing in the country’s growth”, he said.
No worker, specially women and children, are safe in a profession like housemaid where one has to work all day long and stay overnight.
“When countries like the Philippines and Sri Lanka are not sending their women to work in Saudi Arabia why are we sending ours as we know it’s not safe for them at all?” asked the NHRC Chairman urging the ministry of Expatriate Welfare and others to stand beside the returnees.
In the programme, BRAC and LFMEAB signed a MoU on providing financial support to 20 vulnerable women returnees and skill development training and job placement for 50 women returnees.
The returnees also shared their experiences while working in Saudi Arabia and many broke into tears while describing the inhuman tortures they faced there.
Currently 7.35 lakh women are working in different countries among which 2.34 lakh are in Saudi Arabia. Among them, many are returning back to Bangladesh after falling victim of torture or betrayal. UNB