May 22, 2013 | 11:18 PM (BD Time)
22 May, 2013 Wednesday
Problems of female migrants workers
Bijan Lal Dev :
Migration is a global issue. Most of the countries across the world are divided into two categories: migrants originating countries and migrants hosting countries. Need is the basic criterion to exporting and hosting migrants. Some countries have excess manpower to export. Others are in dearth of workforce. The manpower market has a wide variety of supply and demand choices from unskilled laborers to professionals. However, the matrix of migrants is complex. At one end, they sacrifice their beliefs and social practices mainly for their survival. On the other hand, there are effects of migrants on small communities and on each society's culture and values. The migrants are exploited in both ends.
Their rights neither are nor covered by the laws of foreign countries. At the same time, they could not enjoy the benefit of laws of their land as they are outside the country.
However, the UN, ILO and other organizations like the International Organization for Migration have been thriving to ensure the rights of the migrants at both ends.
There are 215 million migrant workers across the world. However, there are migrants in need that is refugees, displaced persons or other uprooted people. Most of the migrant workers are unskilled and Asia is the largest source of both supply and demand of migrants.
Some 7.5 million migrant workers from Bangladesh have been sweating to ensure the development of the host countries under public and private employers. It has been the main source of foreign exchange earnings of Bangladesh after export since 2000.
In 2010, the country has earned the highest 11 billion US dollar as remittances. The Middle-East countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain are the major traditional destinations of migration.
While Singapore, South Korea, Italy, Brunei, Mauritius, Egypt are a bit newer location for Bangladeshi migrants.
Female migrant was unknown to Bangladesh even in 1980s. However, trafficking was there. In the ancient times, people acquired their slaves from the wars and conquests.
These slaves worked as agricultural or domestic servants. With the expansion of modern civilization, slavery had been identified as a hatred act. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery completely.
Nonetheless, unscrupulous traders engaged in human trafficking especially women and children.
Unfortunately, it has been continuing in the modern world also. The traffickers often offer women with better financial opportunities and jobs in the domestic or service industry.
They sometimes use offers of marriage, threats, intimidation and kidnapping as means of obtaining victims.
Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. However, in the majority of cases, the women end up in dire straits.
Traffickers were also active in Bangladesh. Female migrants were used to be victims of recruitment fraud.
They were recruited to work as domestic servants but reaching the destinations they discovered themselves in situations of forced labor, non-payment of wages, threats and physical or sexual abuse.
However, female migrations were started in 1991 with some two thousand workers mainly in Malaysia, Kuwait and Mauritius for agricultural and domestic works. Due to some painful experiences, the female migration was almost halted throughout the decade.
The Government in 2000 passed the Prevention of Women and Child Repression Act to protect women and children from repression including trafficking.
The present Government has taken measures to nab the organized gangs and traffickers in recent years.
Some social organizations from public and private sectors have introduced anti-trafficking awareness programs at the vulnerable areas.
The Government and the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies have taken joint initiatives to recruit female migrants through the registered recruiting agencies. The Government deals with the recruitment irregularities seriously.
As a punitive measure, the licenses of some recruiting agencies have been cancelled. The security deposit money of some agencies has been confiscated. Some agencies experienced total shut down. These initiatives have generated confidence to female workers to go abroad with jobs. It is reflected in the recent data of female migrants.
Some 22 thousand women went abroad in 2009 with confirm job. It has shoot up to 27,700 in 2010 with about 25 percent growth. Lebanon, Mauritius and UAE are the main destinations for them.
The number of female nurses and skilled workers for garment industries and service sectors has been increasing. The Government has taken initiatives to provide language training, acquaint them with the laws of the host countries and means to ensure their rights.
All efforts are now giving dividends as it is now rare to learn any case of deception or exploitation.
Female migrants send remittances to their families at home. It helps them to make new plans for their prosperity.
They become decision-makers in their families. The family members give due importance to their opinions. It helps them to be empowered.
Furthermore, the female members of their families get a mental boost to stand up on their feet. Bangladesh needs such eye-opening avenues to contribute male and female equally to the economy. It will help achieve the cherished goal to convert Bangladesh as a middle income country by 2021.
(PID- UNICEF Feature)
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