50,000 female migrants returned during pandemic | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 07, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:46 AM, March 07, 2021

50,000 female migrants returned during pandemic

Says Brac data

About 49,924 female migrant workers returned home from 21 countries amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Brac Migration Programme.

Besides, at least 487 bodies of female migrant workers arrived after 2016.

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The NGO yesterday shared the data with the media ahead of the International Women's Day on March 8.

Brac said about 9.24 lakh female migrant workers went abroad for employment in different countries including the Middle Eastern ones between 1991 and last year.

However, there is no comprehensive data on the female returnee migrants, it said.

Shariful Hasan, head of Brac Migration Programme, said in the last two and a half years, they in support of expatriates' welfare desk provided immediate support to some 2,645 returnee female migrants at the airport.

Besides, Brac supported about 200 returnee female migrants in launching small-scale trades, he said.

"However, coordinated efforts from both the government and non-government organisations are required to ensure rehabilitation of the large number of female migrants who returned home amid the pandemic and also to mitigate the crises facing those who are abroad," he added.

Shariful said there were cases where women were "sold" in the name of employment abroad while there were also incidents in which women became trafficking victims.

According to Brac data, of the women who returned amid the pandemic, 21,230 returned from Saudi Arabia, 11,602 from the United Arab Emirates, 4,826 from Qatar, 3,209 from Oman, 2,910 from Lebanon, and 2,259 from Jordan. Besides, bodies arrived from 11 countries with the highest 198 from Saudi Arabia, 88 from Jordan, 71 from Lebanon, 53 from Oman, 39 from UAE and 38 from different other countries. Of these corpses, 57 arrived in 2016, 102 in 2017, 112 in 2018, and 139 in 2019. Also, 77 bodies of female migrant workers arrived home amid the pandemic when global air communications largely remained suspended, it added.

Of the deceased, 86 female migrants reportedly died by suicide, 167 died of "stroke", 71 died in accidents, 115 died "naturally", two were murdered, and 46 died due to other reasons.

Recently, a criminal court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a Saudi national in connection with the killing of Bangladeshi female migrant worker Abiron Begum.

Citing government data, Brac said according to cases filed under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, at least 1,791 women fell victim to human trafficking between 2012 and 2020.

Besides their male counterparts, female migrant workers have also been contributing to the country's economy by sending remittance home, the NGO said.

However, the country lacks data regarding how many female migrant workers have returned home after completing their work contracts or after facing torture and abuse abroad, it said.

Brac recommended implementing "female migration policy" effectively to ensure their rights and uphold dignity. And emphasis has to be put on creating skilled female workers and sending them abroad, it said.

It stressed providing SIM cards to female migrant workers before they reach the host countries in order to ensure communication with family members.

It is essential to bring recruiting agencies under a monitoring mechanism and ensure accountability of the agencies in question, it added.

It further demanded ensuring punishment of employers accused of torturing female migrant workers as per law of their own countries and quick disposal of cases filed under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012.

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