Plight of expatriate women workers

Middleman must be dealt with iron hand

Published : 18 Mar 2024 08:50 PM

It is very disappointing that our women intending to go abroad for jobs are still falling prey to the middlemen. The middlemen take a hefty amount of money from women for sending them abroad with a promise to provide them with lucrative jobs. Many women are cheated as they get trapped in fake overseas job offers. 

Members of organised international gangs in association with the local middlemen are luring our women into luxurious life in different countries, particularly in the Middle East. Women in different districts of the country are desperate to go to Middle East countries for work, risking losing all money they have and caring little about personal safety.

But the fact is that thousands of Bangladeshi expatriate women workers had to return home empty-handed from the Middle East countries, after being subjected to torture. However, there is no information available on the real number of women expatriates who returned home in the face of torture and abuse.

Besides, many women expatriate workers who have come back to Bangladesh shared their horrific experiences, saying they suffered backbreaking working hours and sexual abuse every day while they were staying at those countries. Such torture and sexual harassment of female expatriate workers continued to take place in different Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia.

Most of the women workers are cheated and suffer immense financial loss for migrating abroad for jobs. Sometimes, many are left abandoned by their employers, who threw them out of their homes. 

Bangladeshi expatriate women 

workers had to return home 


from the Middle East countries

When these abandoned female workers were found by police, they were picked up and later deported. A story headlined ‘Home they returned empty-handed’ published in the Bangladesh Post on Monday says many  women from Habiganj, Sunamganj and other districts, who went to different Middle East countries with the hope to improve the financial conditions, are now returning home empty-handed.  The middlemen or brokers, locally known as ‘Adam Bepari’, are mainly responsible for making their return difficult. 

As Bangladesh continues to witness a surge in the number of female workers seeking jobs abroad, an increasing number are falling victim to various forms of fraudulence, including wage theft and fake job offers. Bangladeshi women workers are the worst victims of serious crimes in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.  They are being sexually abused and physically and mentally tortured in many ways there. Besides, the female workers faced shortage of food, did not get salary and were often sexually abused by the employers or their family members.

Even, if any woman falls sick due to insufficient food and safe water, they are not provided treatment. Such torture and sexual harassment are taking places in different Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia. Around nine lakh women are working different Middle East countries. The ministry concerned assured several times that steps are being taken to ensure security of women expatriate workers. But the situation has almost remained the same. 

So, the ministries concerned, particularly expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment and foreign ministries have to prepare a specific work plan to stop torture and sexual harassment of women workers. Although our women expatriate workers are playing a great role with their hard-earned remittance in improving financial condition of their families and development of the country, they are not getting due respect upon their return home. The authorities must ensure protection of women expatriate workers in their workplace abroad.

It is our prime duty to work together with the government to discourage our women from illegally going abroad for jobs. The authorities should be careful so that women workers don’t get cheated by the middlemen.