Exploited, 340 female workers returned last month within a year of migration
Some 340 female migrant workers have returned home in April within one year of their migration abroad, according to the Expatriates' Welfare Desk.
Many of these workers returned after being exploited in the host countries, an official at the welfare desk said yesterday on condition of anonymity.
He said many returnees could not "adapt" to the new environment in the host countries, such as changing food habits and extreme workload. Some also developed various health issues and returned due to illness.
The desk, set up at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by the expatriates' welfare ministry, in a Facebook post yesterday said it has provided the 340 "helpless" female returnees with Tk 5,000 each as transportation costs.
The official also said they provided the amount under an official directive of the ministry to those female migrants who returned home empty-handed after being cheated, tortured or exploited.
Female migrant workers from Bangladesh usually go overseas on a two-year job contract, and most of the returnees are from Saudi Arabia, he added.
According to a 2021 report of Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme (Okup), 151 Bangladeshi female migrant workers, who make up around 58 percent of those surveyed, returned home within one year of their migration to Middle Eastern countries after facing various challenges, including exploitative work conditions.
They returned before ending their two-year job "contracts", says the study report "Access to Justice for Bangladeshi Migrant Workers: Opportunities and Challenges".
Okup, a grassroots migrant rights group, surveyed 262 female returnees in Faridpur, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, and Narayanganj who had migrated between 2010 and 2019.
The majority of the workers returned between 2018 and 2019.
Non-payment of wages, illness, physical torture, sexual abuse, and excessive work were among the reasons behind their return, the survey found.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), 10,00,456 female workers migrated abroad between 1991 and 2021. Another 32,113 female workers have migrated abroad this year as of March, as per BMET data.
At present, Bangladesh sends female domestic workers to Saudi Arabia under a "zero cost" migration agreement.