Expatriate welfare and overseas employment minister Imran Ahmad on Tuesday came under fire in the Jatiya Sangsad over sending female workers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a large number of the workers returned home in recent years following sexual abuse.
Three opposition lawmakers – Sultan Mohammad Mansur Ahmed of Gono Forum and Kazi Firoz Rashid and M Mujibul Haque of Jatiya Party – taking part in a question-answer session also demanded a halt to sending female workers to Saudi Arabia.
Bangladeshi female workers in that country, they said, are losing their dignity as they are sexually abused at their workplace.
During his supplementary question Sultan Mansur asked the minister to totally stop sending female workers to Saudi Arabia.
‘Stop sending female workers there this way, otherwise Bangladesh would turn into a country sending out slave for money,’ he added.
Firoz Rashid said that some 600 to 700 bodies of female workers were sent back from Saudi Arabia with autopsy reports saying that these were normal deaths.
‘They [Saudi Arabia] conducted the autopsies and they prepared the reports. Why does the Bangladesh embassy there or the ministry not take any action on it?’ Firoz questioned.
He asked the minister to stop sending female workers to Saudi Arabia, saying, ‘Bangladesh needs no money from selling dignity of our mothers and sisters.’
He remarked that the minister was not informed of the real situation.
Mujibul Haque said that Bangladesh should stop sending female workers to Saudi Arabia and send instead the same number of male workers there.
Responding to their questions and comments, the minister said that the government was deeply concerned about the situation and it was working to solve the matter.
Recruiting agencies, he said, send female workers to that country without informing them about their work, as a result of which they fall victim to such tortures there.
He asked the MPs to provide suggestions to his ministry in this regard so that the crisis could be solved.
The minister informed the parliament that the ministry suspended licensees of 160 recruiting agencies while cancelled those of three such agencies.
He said that the government had taken an initiative to provide aspiring women migrants a one-month training in their trade and to sensitise them about their protection abroad.
In recent years several hundred female workers came back home from Saudi Arabia after they had allegedly faced different types of torture, mainly sexual harassment.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Politics