Bangladesh: Minister blames lack of language skills for return of women workers from KSA

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - The female workers in Saudi Arabia are in “good conditions” thanks to various steps taken by the Bangladesh government, he told parliament.

Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam BSc
yesterday claimed that female Bangladeshi workers were coming back from
Saudi Arabia not because of torture, but for lacking language skills
and having different food habits.

The female workers in Saudi Arabia are in “good conditions” thanks to
various steps taken by the Bangladesh government, he told parliament.

The minister was responding to a call attention notice brought by
Jatiya Party MP Mahjabin Morshed under Section 71 of the Rules of
Procedure of Parliament.

Earlier, Expatriates' Welfare Secretary Namita Halder had said many
Bangladeshi women filed “false complaints” in Saudi Arabia to return
home.

The minister and the secretary made the remarks although hundreds of
female workers have returned from the oil-rich country after suffering
inhume torture at the hands of their employers.

Some of them came back with broken limbs while some had injury marks
all over their bodies. Many of them alleged that they were raped by
their employers and their other family members.

Some of the returnees said their husbands were also not accepting them.

“Our stories of torture are so harrowing that we won't be able to
tell [them]. Many women are tortured and abused. I request you, beg you
to bring them back,” Sarabon Begum, a returnee migrant said in a recent
programme in the capital, describing how her employer once beat her
unconscious for refusing to eat stale food.

Despite these cases, the Bangladesh government did not come up with
any initiative to take legal actions against those employers. And now,
the minister has denied that the women are being tortured.

“It's true that some female workers are returning home from Saudi
Arabia. But the reason behind their return is that they don't understand
Saudi language. The Saudi food also does not suit their food habit,” he
said.

“Sometimes, especially during the Ramadan, our female workers cannot take the heavy work load,” he said.

He claimed that the Bangladesh government was “cautious” so that
Bangladeshi workers did not face any oppression at their workplace
abroad.

In the notice, Mahjabin, an MP from the reserved seats for women,
said many poor and helpless female workers were going to the Arab
country to work hard and change the financial condition of their
families.

“However, as they reach there, they are oppressed in different ways. They are not getting the promised salaries,” she said.

Mahjabin called upon the expatriates' welfare minister to take necessary measures to improve the situation.

She also suggested that the government take strong measures against the brokers who deceive such women.

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