In the last three years more than 200,000 Bangladeshi women went to Saudi Arabia as domestic workers and nearly 6,000 have returned home. A lot of the workers have complained of irregularities and physical abuse and were forced to return. Since remittance is an important part of our economic growth, the government should ensure that the rights of these female migrant workers are protected and that they are safe.
Due to cultural and language barriers, often the workers find it difficult to communicate. The workers should therefore be trained in the host country language and prepared for a culture shock before they leave. Moreover, their documents and belongings are often held back at the private recruiting agencies or the house owners. Here the government should engage all host countries’ as well the Bangladeshi embassies to regulate and monitor whether these women workers are being exploited or their rights are being violated.
Regular visits to the workplaces or houses and updates on the workers’ physical, mental as well as financial well-being will also ensure safety and security of these workers. An emergency helpline of the Bangladeshi embassy and local law enforcing agencies should be provided to each worker in case they seek help.
Private agencies are mostly profit-oriented and do not look after the workers’ welfare. Therefore, if recruitment is conducted solely by government agencies, the problems may reduce because then the policies may be stricter and the mitigations easier. Workplace safety is every individual’s right and if we want more of our female population to become part of our labor force and actively partake in the economy, it is crucial that we implement safety and security measures for our female migrant workers.