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BD can`t be a female manpower exporting nation

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SURPRISINGLY, when manpower export to several important destinations is decreasing the thrust for Bangladeshi female migrant workers in several Arab countries seems quite unusual braving risk for physical abuse and torture. A daily, quoting Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) officials, reported on Sunday that the number of female migration has increased by 217 percent in the last five years when soaring incident of physical and mental torture of unskilled female migrants is an openly debated issue. Most female workers recruited as unskilled domestic help are not protected by laws and are always vulnerable to exploitation.

But question arises as to why the number of female migrants workers is on rapid rise in contrast to a fall in recruitment of male workers. It is a highly sensitive issue at a time when most Middle East countries are facing shortfall of female workers from earlier sources of supply such as Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka Thailand and such other countries. Most female workers from these countries have returned home while new arrival is not taking place because of reportedly indiscriminate incidents of sexual abuse, torture, irregular payment and such other things. The environment is not right for our female workers in highly exploitative Middle East countries and yet more women are going without knowing of their safety. In our view our policy makers must weigh every aspect of it to put a brake on migration of female workers. .

As per BMET the number of female migrant workers swelled to 118,088 in 2016 from that of 37,304 in 2012. It has jumped to 368,411 in April 2017. Jordan is the top recruiting country followed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Lebanon, and Qatar. Except few skilled female workers like nurse, baby sitters and receptionists, most of them are unskilled and low paid and often exposed to misuse.

Migration is mainly encouraged for male workers for employment abroad who earn money for family to end poverty. But it is really worrying that large-scale migration of female workers is taking place in total disregard to risk to their physical safety and other reported abuse. Our religion and socio-cultural values does not allow exposing women to such risk; which is threatening family ties. But manpower agents are collecting young women from countryside and sending then abroad without any bar. The government is not taking the matter seriously. Even some Middle East countries are pressing for 25 percent quota for female workers to get visa for male workers. This is a kind of pressure taking advantage of crowding of people for work permit in countries like Saudi Arabia.

We must say we can't trade our women for money at the cost of their dignity. The government must rein in the situation and stop traffickers from sending women abroad under the guise of manpower export.

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