Sumi Akhtar, who went viral after posting a video with a plea to save her life, has finally returned to Dhaka from Saudi Arabia.
Sumi arrived by an Air Arabia flight at 7:15am on Friday.
Sumi was not allowed to speak to the media. She was not even allowed to meet her husband Nurul Islam at the airport.
The director of the Wage Earners' Welfare Board, Md Zahirul Islam, received her at the airport. The officer-in-charge of the expatriates' welfare desk assisted her in carrying out the formalities.
Although there were many journalists at the airport, a team of the expatriates' welfare board took Sumi in a vehicle and set off for Panchagarh under tight security.
Sumi is from Boirati Senpara village under Boda upazila in Panchagarh. She was handed over to her parent Md Rafiqul Islam and mother Mallick Begum in the presence of Boda Upazila Nirbahi Officer Syed Mahmood Hasan.
On May 30, Sumi went to Saudi Arabia through Ruposhi Bangla Overseas, a recruiting agency, to work as a housekeeper. Recently, her video with a plea to save her life went viral.
In the video, she said, "They [my employers] will kill me. Please, take me back to my country. I want to return to my children and family. I will die if I have to stay here longer."
Sumi's husband Nurul Islam filed a general diary with the Paltan Police Station in the capital after the video went viral. He also filed a written complaint with the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training in this connection on October 22.
Nurul Islam sought Brac Migration Programme's help on October 27 to bring Sumi back home safely, a press release of the programme said. With the help of Brac, a written complaint was filed with the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment on October 29.
As the Consulate General of Bangladesh in Jeddah intervened, Sumi was then rescued from her employer's house by the Saudi police. Initially, Sumi's employer claimed that she would not be allowed to return to the country until the final payment of 22,000 Saudi Riyals was paid, but the matter was settled in a labour court in the city of Najran.
Shariful Hasan, head of Brac Migration Programme, said, "No one has information on how many Bangladeshi workers are suffering like Sumi in Saudi Arabia. Neither our embassy nor the government has any statistics on this."
"Our ambassador said that 13,000 girls have returned in four years. We do not know how many more are in danger. However, Sumi's case has once again proved that if a victim can contact the family, his/her real situation could be known."
Eight years ago, when the process of sending female workers to Saudi Arabia was in the initial stage, there was a demand that they should be allowed to use mobile phones. The government promised that too, but in reality, women workers are not allowed to use mobile phones in most cases. Their passports are taken away too.
As a result, they cannot tell anyone whether they are in danger or not.
Shariful said, "In the last four years, 152 female workers died in Saudi Arabia and 66 of them committed suicide. This year alone, 53 bodies have arrived. Some of these victims might have lived if they were allowed to use mobile phones. So, let them use mobile phones."