Despite problems of sexual abuse, physical tortures and non-payments of salary, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the largest destination for the Bangladeshi housemaids.
The KSA has employed about 73 per cent of the female migrants in 2018 and all of them were employed as housemaids, according to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, or BMET in short.
BMET data which were released on Thursday showed that a total of 101,695 female workers migrated overseas with jobs in 2018 and of them 73,713 female workers have gone to work in the KSA alone.
Oman became the second largest recruiter of the Bangladeshi female workers and hired 11,034 housemaids in 2018.
Being a third destination, Jordan recruited some 9100 female workers, who were mostly garment workers, said BMET officials.
Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Mauritius also recruited substantial number of female workers from Bangladesh during the outgoing year.
BMET officials told New Age that overall female migration declined by 16 per cent in 2016 compared with the numbers of previous year.
Female migration declined due to tightening of recruitment by the government, they said.
Over 121,000 female workers got jobs in 2017, the BMET data showed.
Migration experts called for exploring alternative markets, sending women as factory workers and investigating complaints of abuses in the KSA.
Trade unionist and founder of the AWAJ Foundation Nazma Akter told New Age that female workers should be sent abroad in the garment factories instead of households considering the formers’ better job atmosphere.
‘RMG workers are treated as workers under the labour law having specific work hours, leaves, accommodations. They are more secured than housemaids,’ she said.
Nazma Akter also called upon the government to send female workers under a bilateral agreement by giving them proper training in skills so that they could work in factories abroad.
WARBE Development Foundation director Jasiya Khatoon called for exploring alternative job markets for the female workers considering their safety and security abroad.
She said that the country’s female migration became centred on one country due to failure of the government to find alternatives.
‘The government’s effort should be directed towards exploring countries for woman workers where their migration can be safe and engagement more diversified,’ she added.
National Domestic Women Workers Union general secretary Murshida Akter said that though the female domestic workers were frequently abused and tortured in the KSA, the government is unrelenting in sending them to the Kingdom in huge numbers.
‘We strongly demand an explanation from the ministry of expatriate welfare and overseas employment,’ she said.
Despite such problems, the government is reluctant to investigate it and strengthen monitoring, she said.
BMET started recording female migration since 1991.
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