From the discussion that took place at a meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on Wednesday, concerning the preparation of a work plan to ensure the safety of our female expatriate workers, we are constrained to say that the government’s action here has not been quick, proactive and effective. It seems that the pursuit of earning more from an expatriate worker has sadly overtaken the importance of guaranteeing the safety of women migrant workers—with many of them suffering various forms of torture and sexual harassment abroad.
The government, in many of the reported cases of sexual abuse and torture, had not been able to get the female migrant workers to safety fast enough. And according to the Brac migration programme, 311 dead bodies of women workers had returned to the country between 2016 and June this year.
Given this reality, we are aghast at the recent comment of a minister who said that only one percent or less of all women migrant workers face torture or other problems at their workplaces abroad. It is very unfortunate to see the value of human lives be reduced to mere statistics.
Because of similar incidents of torture and abuse of their citizens in various middle eastern countries, we have seen other countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia taking strong stance to protect their nationals. That our government does not see the abuse of our migrant workers as seriously, is disappointing.
When human lives are at stake, it is incumbent upon the government to take quick and effective steps. The government should not make any compromise that jeopardises the safety of our female migrant workers and must take all the necessary measures to ensure that they are not put in any harm’s way.