Women migrant workers, particularly Bangladesh’s female migrants, remain vulnerable to various forms of abuse and even death especially in Gulf countries.
On average, 100 women migrant workers return home every year as corpses as bodies of at least 714 women migrant workers were brought back to Bangladesh in last seven years.
Migration experts said that most of the bodies of migrant workers come from Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia.
Against this backdrop, a writ petition has been filed in the High Court seeking instructions to compensate the families of 714 Bangladeshi women workers who died in different countries, including Saudi Arabia, in the last seven years.
Advocate Anjuman Ara Lima, a lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court, filed the writ petition on Monday (February 6).
She said that the High Court bench of Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice Ahmed Sohel may hear the writ petition.
The writ also seeks directions to ensure the safety and welfare of the women workers in foreign countries.
The secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) have been made defendants in the writ.
On January 30, a report was published in a Bengali daily that raised questions regarding the deaths of 714 women workers who died in different countries.
According to non-government organisation BRAC’s statistics, based on data collected from the government, a least 714 Bangladeshi women workers have returned as corps from various Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, in the past seven years.
From 2016 to 2022, the workers’ causes of death were shown as either natural death or cerebral hemorrhage or suicide.
However, the majority of the women migrant workers suffering ‘natural death’ abroad were aged below 40.
Migration experts said that Bangladesh has not taken sufficient initiatives to investigate those unnatural deaths. They also said that a second autopsy is necessary for any death in foreign country. Embassies have to raise questions about workers’ causes of death.
Doctors, public health and migration experts said that migrant workers, particularly the women workers, spend a lonely life there. Most of them die from brain strokes and heart attacks. There is a connection between mental pressure and loneliness with heart diseases and brain strokes.
The government provides Tk 35,000 immediately to the family of a dead worker and another Tk 300,000 plus insurance payments (if any) as compensation