The Bangladesh Bank has suggested sending more women abroad to increase remittance inflow although more than a thousand female migrant workers returned from the Middle East following abuse by their employers.
In its first quarterly report of wage-earners remittance inflow for the current fiscal year, the central bank said global demand for overseas female workers in some occupations, such as nursing and domestic work, has been increasing in recent years.
So, the government may take necessary initiatives for sending female workers abroad through the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment and the Bangladeshi diplomatic missions abroad, the report proposed.
Published on the Bangladesh Bank website on Sunday, the report reads that private recruiting agencies may play an important role in this regard.
Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), said, ''Return of 12,000 workers since 2015 is not a high ratio – 10-15 percent coming back is a normal amount. Many women came back for homesickness and other physical reasons. So, the demand to halt sending female workers abroad is irrational.''
Mohammed Ali Siddiqui, the public relations secretary of Baira, said, "We welcome the decision to continue sending female workers abroad. But as a recruiting agency, we cannot ensure their security.
"We work together with the counterpart agency for salary and some other issues," he told The Business Standard.
He added that this is the responsibility of the Bangladeshi embassy and other authorities concerned to hold the foreign recruiting agencies accountable.
However, according to an MoU signed by Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, Baira has to take responsibility of the workers for up to three months after their arrival in Saudi Arabia, according to Kafil Uddin Majumder, member welfare secretary of Baira.
"We answer to our government. Some local recruiting agencies have even lost their registrations, but Saudi recruiting agencies and employers do not face any consequences for the torture of our female workers. We have asked the government to take action but there has been no result," said Kafil.
Earlier on November 14, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen had said, "Around 270,000 women have gone to Saudi Arabia on employment. Among the 8,000 or so who have returned to the country, 53 were dead."
According to data by the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), 11.37 million Bangladeshi workers migrated abroad between 1991 and 2018. Of them, 7.98 lakh were female workers.
But, the share of female workers in terms of total overseas workers is very insignificant – 7.01 percent – due to various impediments such as social and cultural barriers, reads the Bangladesh Bank report.
Central bank data says during the July-September period of this year, a good number of Bangladeshi female workers migrated abroad for employment. About 15,400 female workers migrated during this period, which is 11.2 percent of the total migration.
Among the total female Bangladeshi migrants abroad, 38.92 percent went to Saudi Arabia, 29.30 percent to Jordan, 16.42 percent to Oman, 4.83 percent to Qatar, 3.13 percent to the UAE, 2.71 percent to Lebanon and 4.53 percent to other countries.
In the first five months of FY20, remittance inflows increased by 22.67 percent from the same period of previous fiscal year, standing at $7,714.19 million.