Rosina Begum (not real name), aged 38, from Rangpur went to Saudi Arabia three years ago with hopes for a job, but human traffickers shattered her dreams, and landed her in a brothel. She now wants to return home. Another victim, Parul Begum of Cumilla went to Jeddah a couple of years ago to seek her fortune. Without torture, she gained nothing, and now wants to return home.
The condition of millions of Bangladeshi women like Rosina in the Middle East, is almost the same. According to the BRAC Migration Program, an average of 250 women workers have taken shelter in the Safe Homes under the Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia. At least six thousand women have returned from Saudi Arabia in the last four years. Large parts of those women are victims of various types of torture. In 2011, Bangladesh stopped sending female workers to Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
One of the reasons was the torture of women workers. In the current situation, more than a thousand women have returned from Saudi Arabia in the last one year, and so have the bodies of 119. In this regard, a BRAC migration program official said, since 2008, Saudi labor market has been closed for Bangladesh.
The government opened the labor market in Saudi Arabia after several years of debt settlement. In addition, as part of this, Bangladesh agreed to send female workers to Saudi Arabia in 2015. However, by sending female workers there is no profit. Saudi brokers have established mini brothels in different houses of the country.
They also said, “We are getting information that women workers are being inhumanly tortured.” The official added that many of those who have recently returned to India have been sexually abused. Besides, many have been victims of physical abuse.
An official at the Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia said, there are two 'safe homes' in Riyadh and Jeddah. Women who are in danger are given shelter there. Many have urged to return home.
Some have returned home after being tortured. Many have fled Saudi Arabia to return home because of owner’ oppression. Some of the workers open their mouths against the horrific sexual abuse that has happened to them, but many keep their mouths shut in shame.
It has also been reported that many have committed suicide for employers sexual abuse and pregnancy. After working 18 hours on average, women get only three loaves of bread to eat. They also said 61 per cent of the women workers returning to the country were subjected to various types of physical abuse. 63 per cent of women are getting sick due to torture. 86 percent of workers are not paid.
Bangladeshi workers living in Saudi Arabia said, 15 to 16 lakh workers are working in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Dammam, Mecca, and some other places. In fact, the people of the embassy of Bangladesh are allegedly not looking after the workers.