The organisation said the return of women workers from Saudi Arabia after being physically and mentally abused is a gross violation of human rights
The government should prioritise protecting the lives and livelihoods of abused female migrant workers, said Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) on Thursday.
In a press statement expressing deep concern and outrage about the return of women workers from Saudi Arabia after being physically and mentally abused, the organisation said these incidents are gross violations of human rights.
"The government should prioritise the lives, livelihoods, dignity, and security of female migrant workers, considering their role in sending remittances. In addition, the government should ensure severe punishment for the crooked people involved in these crimes," said Shahin Anam, executive director of MJF.
MJF said the Bangladeshi embassy in Saudi Arabia should have taken legal action against the employers of the abused women and made arrangements for their compensation. But in most cases, the labour attache does not take the initiative to file suits. In other cases, even if a lawsuit is filed, it doesn't proceed after the victim returns home.
In such cases, MJF said, "The Bangladeshi embassy should strictly monitor these matters so that cases are filed to ensure justice for the victims, and compensation is collected from their employers."
Many women migrant workers become pregnant, raped by their employers or other members of the household they work in.
"They are returning to Bangladesh with children after losing everything. According to a survey by Brac, there has been at least 12 such cases in recent times. Also, in the last 10 years, at least 10,000 abused women have returned from Saudi Arabia with their hopes shattered," MJF noted.
Article 11.5 of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women calls on member states to sign the charter to ensure the health of women workers, including reproductive health, and the right to safety in the workplace. Despite Bangladesh being a signatory to the clause, many Bangladeshi migrant women workers are being physically, mentally and sexually harassed abroad.
MJF said the participation of women in economic activity through migration has led to women's empowerment, but the government should think about addressing the human rights and other security risks women face.