Proper steps should be taken to end exploitation and torture of Bangladeshi migrant workers at both home and abroad, said speakers in an online discussion yesterday.
They said introducing technology-based know-hows such as mobile-based applications on labour migration could be a way forward to build awareness among migrant workers to ensure their due rights.
The online discussion was part of launching of the app "SafeStep", and was organised by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU).
RMMRU with support from Winrock International, Elevate Hong Kong Holdings Limited and Diginex Solutions has developed the app, which aims to promote awareness on basic information of safe and orderly labour migration, and fair, ethical, and responsible overseas recruitment.
Addressing the discussion, Kamal Uddin Ahmed, full-time member of National Human Rights Commission, said Bangladeshi migrant workers have been contributing to build big structures in host countries, but they are deprived of due rights.
"It is shocking," he said, adding, in reality, they face torture and exploitation often. Bangladesh needs to speak loud against torturous incidents against its migrant workers.
Referring to a reported incident in which a Bangladeshi woman migrant worker returned home with a five-month-old baby from abroad recently, Kamal said they will take steps for filing a case over the incident.
Nurul Islam, former director of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, said one of the main obstacles in labour migration is presence of middlemen in between the recruiting agencies and migrant workers, which needs to be addressed.
The role of middlemen should be abolished to reduce huge migration cost, he said. He stressed the need for trial run of the app launched yesterday.
Farida Yeasmin, a Supreme Court lawyer and migrant rights activist, said women migrant workers lack knowledge and skill to use technology. They should be prioritised while piloting the app.
Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, former secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, said price of plane tickets is quite high now. In some cases, the price of a $300 ticket went up to $1,200.
Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, chairperson of Bangladesh Parliamentarians' Caucus on Migration and Development, said due to lack of knowledge and education, many women migrant workers are at high risk of exploitation, which needs to be minimised.
He urged the government to allocate a part of remittance sent by migrant workers for their wellbeing.