POST TIME: 16 November, 2019 10:51:26 PM
Returning workers from KSA

Returning workers 
from KSA

In recent times, droves of Bangladeshi workers have come back from the oil rich Gulf State, either because they faced horrible abuse or because they were working there without valid papers and authorisation. The media has reported the plight of countless female migrant workers who were sent with the help of the Bangladesh mission because they were facing mistreatment from their employers.

The main allegation raised by the Saudi government is that many of the workers are not trained properly while the victims of physical torture say that they were made to work in inhuman conditions often forced to provide deviant sexual favours. The problems for expatriate workers in KSA wade into murky waters because there are countless Bangladeshis who are living and working in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom without documents.

In such complex situation, where it’s public knowledge that workers from Bangladesh often flout the migrant worker laws, it’s not surprising that many face brutal working conditions or are exploited. The approach to deal with this has to be three-pronged with the first step made to ensure workers without proper papers do not stay back. For this, the expatriate Bengali community needs to set up a counseling centre supported by the embassy.

Secondly, there has to be a monitoring system in Bangladesh that will screen all workers before they leave for KSA because many workers, mostly the victims of unethical brokers, end up in Gulf States without any skills and the right papers. Since most returnees are from Saudi Arabia, the entire process of going to the desert kingdom to work can be dealt with through a special office which will only focus on KSA.  Thirdly, the issue of the women workers, who are coming back to relate tales of horror need to be taken seriously and not brushed aside with flippant comments. When a worker is coming back in a coffin, there has to be a full- fledged government investigation to ascertain why the worker died and the conditions in which she was made to work. Recently, BBC broke the news that showing net based domestic workers being sold like slaves in a Gulf State.

A Bangladeshi worker who came back reportedly said she was sold in a similar manner in Saudi Arabia and was forced to work in barbaric conditions without food, wages and medical attention. While rescued women are brought back, the perpetrators of such abominable behaviour are hardly punished. Saudi Arabia must admit that many of their employers equate service of a worker to that of a slave and, therefore, make visible efforts to sensitise employers.