‘Enhance protection of female workers abroad’

Staff Correspondent

Experts on Monday suggested the government develop protection mechanisms for female migrant workers at Bangladeshi missions abroad, as the demand for female workers, particularly housemaids, was increasing every year.
They called for strengthening the capacity of the Bangladesh labour attaché to protect vulnerable migrant workers in destination countries, through information and experience gathering from previous labour attaches.
They put forth their observations at a dialogue on ‘Labour Attaches: The protectors of female migrant workers in the Middle East’ at Dhaka University senate building. Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit organised the programme in association with Manusher Jonno Foundation.
RMMRU founding chair Tasneem Siddiqui said over 700 female workers of Sri Lanka, who were mostly runaways from workplaces, have taken refuge at shelter homes in the Middle East countries, and take help from officials to resolve any problems they may face.
Bangladeshi female workers who face problems in recipient countries cannot take such shelter at safe homes due to the absence of facilities in Bangladesh missions, she said.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnyan Programme chairman Sakirul Islam said that many female worker-sending countries, including Sri Lanka, have opened 24-hour hot lines for their citizens abroad, but Bangladesh missions have no such system to help the workers.
He said about 43 per cent of migrant workers returned every year with different health complications as they face various problems abroad.
Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training director general Begum Shamsun Nahar, who presided over the dialogue, said about 65,000 female workers have already gone abroad in the current year. The trend of female migration from Bangladesh was gradually increasing due to high demand of housemaids abroad, she said.
The government has decided to extend mandatory pre-departure training for outbound female workers from three weeks to three weeks to improve their knowledge, she said.
Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies senior vice president Ali Haider Chowdhury said as the migration of female workers was a ‘sensitive issue’, protective measures should be taken at home and abroad.
The outbound female workers should be groomed with adequate skills, through training at home, and counseling at departure points, he said.
Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on labour, Md Israfil Alam, who attended as chief guest, sought cooperation from BAIRA, International Organisation of Migration and concerned departments to send more people abroad.
IOM chief of mission Sarat Sash, TIB executive director Ifthekharuzzaman, Manusher Jonno Foundation executive director Shaheen Anam, among others, also spoke at the dialogue.

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