Bangladeshi civil society members and migrant rights activists on Saturday called for taking collaborative steps by South Asian sending countries to protect their female domestic workers from exploitation by employers in the Middle Eastern and other countries.
They were speaking at a side event on ‘Struggle of Women Migrant Workers: Context Bangladesh,’ in Marrakesh organized by Bangladesh Civil Society Coordination Committee with support from British Council’s PROKAS programme.
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit director Marina Sultana said that large number of Bangladeshi workers regularly return home from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as victims of abuse.
‘We demand intervention by regional and international community to protect the victims,’ she said.
Nepali trade unionist Laxman Basnet said that domestic workers from South Asian regions were facing similar problems in destination countries in the Middle East and the Gulf region.
He called for involving the trade unionists with the recruitment process to protect the migrant workers’ rights.
American Solidarity Center’s senior programme officer Dr Lily Gomes said that Bangladesh has enacted good migration related laws which should be strictly enforced to stop the malpractices in the recruitment process.
She said that advocacy programmes should be strengthened to motivate the government in sending workers under legally binding Bilateral Agreements instead of non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to ensure protection of the migrant workers abroad.
Lily Gomes suggested labour sending countries to conduct comparative studies to find out the common problems faced by their workers in destination countries so that they could make joint protective interventions.
Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association director Sumaiya Islam held the recruitment system responsible for the women migrant workers’ deprivation.
She called for recognizing domestic work as work and domestic workers’ rights as human rights.
WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that parliamentarians from the South Asian Countries could initiate joint moves for taking up the migrant issues with recipient countries to protect the migrant workers.
BRAC migration programme head Shariful Hassan said that efforts should be made immediately to bring the employers under punitive legal coverage for their misdeeds against migrant workers.
Singaporean rights activist Alex Au Waipang suggested the migrant rights activists to stop talking problems, rather start thinking of solution by taking social level actions.
Deputy country programme director of American Solidarity Centre in Bangladesh Kelly Marie Fay Rodríguez ,Team leader of PROKAS programme of British Council in Bangladesh Gerry Fox, Institute of Informatics and Development founder Sayeed Ahamed and many participants from Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, Morocco and the United States shared their views.
After the summit was over on Friday, 750 civil society representatives from 76 countries began a two-day celebration of Peoples’ Global Action, better known as PGA.
At this event, migrant rights activists and trade unionists demanded actions to defend and protect rights of the migrants and the refugees.
Inaugurated by Moroccan human rights campaigner Kamal Lahbib, the PGA celebrations were addressed by Migrant Forum in Asia coordinator William Gois and 2018 GFMD Civil Society Day chair Roula Mahati.
High level delegates from UN member states, including Bangladesh are scheduled to adopt the Global Compact for Migration at a two-day inter-governmental meeting set to kick off in Marrakesh today.
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