Domestic Workers' Rights Network (DWRN) has demanded the end of violence on domestic workers and their trafficking. Additional demands include ensuring their legal rights, proper treatment of victims, and bringing torturers to book.
DWRN leaders made these demands from a human chain held in front of the National Press Club in the capital on Saturday.
The event was organized in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), and was attended by around 200 participants.
Abul Hossain, acting coordinator of Domestic Workers' Rights Network, said four domestic workers were killed in the last 10 months in the country, while seven were raped and eight were repressed.
During this time, another ten incidents of suspicious deaths and three abnormal deaths of domestic workers have also been reported, he mentioned.
According to his statement, between 2016 and 2019, 100 domestic workers have been killed in the country.
"The situation of overseas Bangladeshi domestic workers is even more horrific. A worker was killed in Jordan yesterday as he joined a legal procession demanding an increase in pay of factory workers," Abul Hossain continued.
He also pointed to the recent gruesome death of a 13-year-old Bangladeshi domestic worker named Kulsum in Saudi Arabia, who had her eyes brutally gouged out before being killed.
The DWRN leader said that in the last three years alone, 410 dead bodies of Bangladeshi domestic workers were sent back to their homes from overseas after a systematic campaign of persecution. Of this number, 67 had committed suicide after being harassed by their employers.
In the last nine months alone, 63 dead bodies of Bangladeshi domestic workers had been sent back to Bangladesh from overseas.
Speaking at the event, Arifa Akter, general secretary of the National Workers Federation said domestic workers are being killed, persecuted, and sexually harassed – both here at home and abroad. It seems there is no value to their lives at all.
If a worker dies overseas and his/her family does not return the body of the deceased to Bangladesh, the employer pays Tk12 lakh to the bereaved family. But if the family does bring back the body, the employer is not liable for anything, which is extremely unfair, she said.
"Thanks to the remittance sent by these overseas workers, Bangladesh's foreign currency reserve is growing in leaps and bounds. But if they die overseas, costs need to be incurred to return their bodies home. We demand a repeal of this terrible rule," she added.
Leaders of several other rights groups also attended the programme.