Bangladesh has shut 166 recruitment agencies after abuse, torture claims in Saudi Arabia; As many as 21,000 Bangladeshis have returned home in last 10 months; According to Bangladeshi authorities, nearly 50,000 female workers went to Saudi Arabia until the end of September this year
DESPARDES — Saudi Arabia has assured of taking steps for ensuring the safety of Bangladeshi female migrant workers in the Kingdom, the secretary of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry said in Dhaka today.
“We have urged to investigate the incidents of female migrant workers who are at safe homes in Saudi Arabia,” Secretary Salim Reza said while holding a press conference at his ministry office in the Bangladesh capital this morning.
“Currently, there are 146 female migrant workers at different safe homes in Saudi Arabia,” he said, adding that 34 more female workers are now at deportation centers.
The secretary further said that women workers are facing different kinds of problems. Some of them complained of abuse by the house owners while others claimed they were deprived of sufficient food, he added.
Bangladesh said Tuesday that it has shut down 166 recruiting agencies hiring people to work in Saudi Arabia after a spate of sexual abuse and torture allegations at the hands of employers in the Gulf kingdom.
Since 1991, some 300,000 Bangladeshi women have traveled to Saudi Arabia, according to the Dhaka government, mostly to work as household staff.
But a string of them have returned to Bangladesh in recent months leveling allegations of sexual abuse and torture and even that recruiters had sold them as sex slaves.
Last month videos secretly shot by Bangladeshi female workers were shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media and sparked protests across Bangladesh.
Government spokesman Munirus Saleheen said that the agencies that were shut down had failed to provide safeguards to the migrant workers and in some cases sent them back to their employers.
“Our campaign will continue,” Saleheen told AFP.
Their closure followed talks between Bangladeshi and Saudi officials in Riyadh.
Both countries also decided to update an online database of the female workers to ensure their safety, a statement issued by the Bangladeshi expatriate welfare ministry said.
Saudi police have also agreed not to hand back any Bangladeshi woman who escaped from a Saudi employer to her workplace, it said.
The ministry also said that the Saudi Department of Protection and Support “will take prompt action if a female worker falls in danger”.
Dhaka last week said it was also trying to repatriate another 32 women who filmed a joint distress call from a Saudi detention center after they ran away from their employers.