After facing enormous physical and psychological torture and irregularities over wages, 40 more Bangladeshi women workers returned from Saudi Arabia on Sunday empty-handed.
Depressed and shocked, the women who used to work as housemaids there landed at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 8:45pm where officials from NGO Brac received them.
“Forty women have arrived in Bangladesh safely and five others are scheduled to return home tomorrow,” said Al Amin, spokesman of Brac’s Migration Program.
Almost all of the returnees claimed that they had left Saudi Arabia after suffering inhumane torture at the hands of their employers while many of them mentioned payment-related irregularities as an added bonus to their misery.
Many of these women had escaped from their employers’ houses without passport and returned to Bangladesh with support from the Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Priti Begum of Manikganj, who went to Saudi Arabia with a local broker’s assistance, said she worked at the home of a wealthy Saudi man who used to beat her even over minor reasons.
“The workload in that house was huge and I had to take care of at least 16 people. I could not even get enough sleep. They did not care even if I was sick. There were no medical facilities for workers like me,” she told the Dhaka Tribune at the airport.
“My employer and his family members used to beat me so severely that I had lost consciousness several times during my stay in that house. One day, I escaped from that house and sought help from local police. They sent me to the Bangladesh embassy and now I am here,” said a broken Priti.
Another worker named Sakina Begum from Brahmanbaria said she worked there for two months and has returned to Bangladesh without receiving any payment.
“I am a poor woman. I went to Saudi Arabia against my husband’s wishes, to earn money and for a better life. But now, I have returned empty-handed and I do not know how to show my face to my family,” she said.
Brac’s Al Amin said most of these women experienced similar tortures at the hands of their employers.’
Many of them returned empty-handed and were so broke that they were even unable to go home to their families, he added, urging the government to consider these cases seriously and take legal actions against their employers.
Last week, Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry’s Secretary Dr Namita Halder had said: “Most of the Bangladeshi women workers in Saudi Arabia are working happily and those returning home were coming back after failing to cope up with the local environment and culture.”
However, Sunday’s 40 followed a number of women workers who have recently returned to Bangladesh from Saudi Arabia in a similar manner and shared with the media their tales of woe under the employment of locals in Saudi Arabia.