From the government to development organisations, all parties need to work together to implement the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy-2015, which is crucial to protecting the rights of around 17 lakh domestic workers and institutionalising their labours, said experts on Wednesday.
A large portion of working women in the county are domestic workers, but they are not under the labour law. Besides, no institutional monitoring system has been introduced so far to ensure their rights and decent working environment, said Pinas Akhter, senior program officer of Oxfam, while presenting a keynote paper at a seminar titled "Rights and wellbeing of domestic workers in Bangladesh: Exploring the opportunities and challenges for policy implementation".
Oxfam and Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) jointly organised the discussion in the capital.
Citing a study of the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, Pinas said a total of 44 domestic workers were subjected to various forms of tortures last year.
"Of them, four were killed, and 12 died mysteriously. Besides, at least 12 were raped. Besides, 12 people were physically injured after being severely tortured while four committed suicide being unable to bear tortures," she added.
However, against such death incidents, only an unnatural death case was filed with a local police station, she lamented.
Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Employment KM Abdus Salam said work is underway on revisiting the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy and a monitoring cell to work on the issue.
They are mulling incorporating child labour into the policy, he added.
Admitting that there are some shortcomings in implementing the domestic worker protection welfare policy, the secretary said the ministry will work on bringing the issue into the government's priority list.
CAMPE Executive Director Rasheda K Chowdhury said, "We need to think about a large number of domestic help, and it should start from our home."
"We need to discuss the status of implementation of the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy, and whether it can be converted into law."
Among others, Oxfam Country Director Dipankar Datta also spoke at the event.