Women migrant workers: more than half return with shattered dreams

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According to a study by the Bangladesh Institute for Labor Studies, 55% of 323 female migrant workers returned to the country unexpectedly or forcibly.

Up to 22.6 percent of migrant women returned within a year of migration, 17.6 percent between one and two years and 17.3 percent within two to three years. Data was collected between July and December 2020.

In addition, 38% of returnees said they had been “physically abused” in destination countries while 52% were victims of forced labor, according to the study, which was conducted in 12 upazilas in Chattogram, Jashore and Faridpur.

He further revealed that 60 percent of returnees were unemployed after returning home.

In terms of social stigma, 52% believed that a change in social attitude towards them had occurred after their return.

BILS shared the findings of the report “Social and Economic Reintegration of Returnee Migrant Workers: Successes and Sorrows” during a roundtable discussion at the Daily Star Center yesterday. The report had already been shared with the media in September.

On average, the families of the returnees had an income-expenditure gap of Tk 2,378 while two in three returnees did not have a regular monthly income, said Manirul Islam, principal researcher at BILS.

In addition, 61 percent of returnees had debt of Tk 76,736 each.

In the case of social attitude, 38% said they were seen as “lower class” people while 45% said they were overlooked or avoided or were not asked to. social events.

In addition, 17% of returnees said that no family member was present at the airport to receive them when they returned home.

For sustainable reintegration, 90 percent of returnees requested the introduction of a social security protection scheme while 30 percent sought a vocational training program.

Bangladesh should emerge from a “state of denial” against the exploitation of women migrant workers abroad, said Rahnuma Salam Khan, national program manager of ILO Bangladesh, at the event organized by BILS.

Along with the country of origin and workers, host countries are responsible for the successful reintegration of returning migrants.

A dozen ministries are involved in providing services to migrant workers, but there is a lack of coordination between them, said Shamsun Nahar, a member of the parliamentary committee of the Ministry of Labor and Employment.

Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, worker activities specialist of the ILO’s technical team for decent work in South Asia, urged the inclusion of women representatives of local governments in discussions aimed at the welfare of women migrant workers .

Zahid Anwar, deputy director of the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board, said they would provide cash assistance to around two lakhs of migrant workers as part of reintegration assistance under a Bank-funded project. global.

In addition, 30 welfare offices for migrant workers will be established across the country, he said.

Chaired by Shah Mohammad Abu Zafar, member of the BILS Advisory Board, the event was addressed, inter alia, by Zohora Monsor, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training; and Sheikh Rumana, Secretary General of the Bangladesh Ovibashi Mohila Sramik Association.

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