Progressive women organisations on Sunday staged a rally in front of the National Press Club for protection of the country’s women migrants working in the Middle Eastern countries and submitted a petition with a 9-point charter of demands to the foreign ministry.
‘Our country sent 3 lakh women to Saudi Arabia as domestic helps under an agreement signed in 2015 and also many women to other Middle Eastern countries to earn foreign currencies,’ the organisations’ leaders said at the rally, chaired by Communist Party leader Luxmi Charaborty.
‘In last three and half years, 311 women returned home dead after being subjected to inhuman treatment and sexual abuse,’ they said. ‘119 bodies were sent this year alone.’
‘Saudi Arabia claimed that 53 women committed suicide and 120 died of stroke but how come young women die of stroke when they are capable of working for others,’ they said. ‘Saudi Arabia did not explain.’
‘The host countries agree to abide by all international and bilateral conventions of rights but in reality, they treat our women as slaves,’ they said.
‘61 per cent of the women undergo sexual and physical abuse, 14 per cents are raped and 24 per cent are denied basic needs like food,’ they said.
‘And if a woman demands fair treatment, she is handed over to police on false charge of crimes,’ they said.
Samajtantrik Mohila Forum’s general secretary Shampa Basu moderated the rally, also addressed by Shramajibi Nari Maitri president Bahnishikha Jamali, Bangladesh Nari Mukti Kendra’ president Seema Dutta, Nari Sanghati central leader Suleka Rahman, Biplabi Nari Forum convenor Amena Akter and Hill Women’s Federation central leader Neeti Chakma among others.
After the rally, they submitted a petition charting nine demands to the foreign ministry.
The demands include immediate cessation of sending more women without guarantee of protection, legal and physical protections for women in accordance with international conventions of rights, implementation of bilateral deals, bringing the responsible people in the embassies to justice, documentation of the foreign employers hiring the women, documentation of recruiting agencies, guarantee to the right to file cases against the employers and for compensations, rehabilitation of the returned women, compensation for the victims and their families.
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