Migration experts and development activists yesterday laid emphasis on strong coordination among government and recruiting agencies and employers to ensure female migrants' rights.
A section of Bangladeshi female migrants everyday face different forms of workplace abuse, primarily physical and sexual, and are exploited either by employers or recruiting agents, they observed.
Labour attachés at Bangladesh missions are responsible for addressing the problems with government agencies concerned of the destination countries and there is no alternative to them in maintaining an effective system to deal with the issues, they added.
The discussants were addressing a dialogue, “Labour Attachés: The Protectors of Female Migrants in the Middle East”, jointly organised by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban in Dhaka University.
Stating that the most neglected sector is that of manpower, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the sending country must negotiate with the receiving country to protect migrants from exploitation.
“It is a matter of national interest that the migrants be protected as, at the end of the day, they are contributing to the country's economy,” he added.
As migrants, particularly females, become victims of cultural shock, it is of immense importance to address the issues including security and safety, he said.
“The female migrants should have facilities to get assistance from one-stop service centres. If the government can address their issues through establishing a systematic or institutional way, the migrants will be more benefitted,” Iftekharuzzaman observed.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, said migrants can not be only considered as remittance machines.
The workplace abuse and exploitation female migrants have to face need to be dealt with importance each and every time they occur, she added.
RMMRU founder chair Prof Tasneem Siddique said the government should set up shelter houses at Bangladesh missions so that victimised female migrants can seek immediate assistance.
Addressing as chief guest, lawmaker Israfil Alam said the number of people unemployed in Bangladesh was some 26 or 27 lakh.
So there is no scope to deny the need of foreign employment. But it is the government and private sector's collective initiative which is essential to ensure safe migration, he added.
Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training Director General Begum Shamsun Nahar and International Organization for Migration Bangladesh chief Sarat Dash also spoke.