In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, many Bangladeshi housemaids run to police stations and prefer jails than employers’ homes where excessive work and torture exhaust them, said victims on return home.
Job related problems also force many of the housemaids to take shelter at safe homes run by Bangladesh missions in Riyadh and Jeddah, Bangladesh embassy officials told New Age.
Victims’ relatives also narrated the same stories.
Labour Counsellor Md Sarwar Alam at the Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh said that at least 160 housemaids of Bangladesh in Riyadh took shelter at the embassy’s safe home in the Saudi capital.
Replying to a question, he said excessive work and abuses suffered by the country’s housemaids would be raised at the joint technical group meeting due to be held in Dhaka.
Housemaids on return home and rights campaigners said that housemaids have to work for over 18 hours per day.
They said that the employers also force the housemaids to work at their relatives’ houses.
Housemaid Najma, from Satkhira, has been in jail custody in Madina where she landed within three months’ of her arrival in the KSA.
As she complained that her employer sexually abused, tortured and beat her up repeatedly, the police took her to the police station and sent her to jail custody.
She refused to return to work due the excesses committed by the employer.
Her brother Rabiul Islam told New Age that three other Bangladeshi housemaids who were in the same jail as Najma already came back to Bangladesh. But Najma could not return as her employer neither returned her passport nor provide her air fares.
He said that United Export Limited recruiting agency had sent Najma to the KSA in June of 2015 in exchange of Tk 30,000.
Rabiul said that her Saudi employer had been demanding 22,500 Saudi Riyals to release Najma saying he had bought her.
Housemaid Khadija who returned to Bangladesh two months ago told New Age that she had spent 11 days with Najma in the same jail.
Khadija of Pathorghata, Barisal said she worked in the KSA for barely 10 months and came back home as she was forced to work for long hours at her employers home as well as his shops but was underpaid.
Khadija said that the police sent her to jail custody after she complained to them about her excess work load and low wage.
She said that as she refused to go back to the employers home he gave the return air fare deducting her wage for two months.
Khadija said she found that many Bangladeshi housemaids who landed in Saudi police stations and jails after suffering abuses, over work and low wages.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs