Bangladeshi women migrant workers have faced job-termination, under-payment, denial of wages and other many impediments in returning home during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bangladesh Nari Sramik Kendra (BNSK), a woman migrant rights based organization.
These issues of Bangladeshi migrants were found in a recent study, BNSK executive director Sumaiya Islam told Migration News on Thursday.
She said that Bangladeshi women migrants were yet to get support services from Bangladesh missions abroad during the pandemic.
BNSK would organize a web-conference on Friday when it would present the findings of the study. Dr. A K Abdul Momen, MP, foreign minister of Bangladesh is scheduled to join the program as the chief guest while Nasima Begum, chairman NHRC, Bangladesh, Dr Bandana Patanaik, Regional Coordinator, GAATW, and Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country representative are also set to attend it.
Quoting the study, Sumaiya Islam mentioned that insufficient support services were extended to cater to huge demands at the destination countries.
‘For example, 24- hour hotline services not available in destination countries - like SOS while women workers are facing gender based violation at workplace and in the office of the recruiting agencies.’
She also said that unavailability/scarce monitoring mechanisms in destination countries were yet to oversee women workers’ issues during this COVID-19 pandemic.
During COVID19 pandemic, BNSK has received numerous calls and yet receiving at its hotline numbers from women migrant workers working overseas to seek support. At one stage, BNSK has realised that providing services it is essential to understand the magnitude and types of problems of women migrant workers facing in different destinations and here in Bangladesh.
Aligning with, BNSK has conducted two separate researches on COVID-19 Pandemic and Socioeconomic conditions of Women migrant workers: one for overseas migrant women workers and another one for in country women migrant workers.
Bangladeshi women workforces were mostly employed mostly in informal sector in the Gulf countries.
As a result of the Covid-19 shut-downs and other barriers, women workers face multiple barriers in entering the labour market as well as remaining there. During the shutdown, the economies of many countries have relied on unpaid work, especially that of women.
Care workers including cleaners, live-in domestic workers, social workers and nurses have often been handling heavy workloads, excessive work time, with no extra remuneration. Live-out migrant domestic workers have been particularly affected by the crisis.
Earlier of the month of June, the International Organization for Migration warned that due to the global economic and labor crises created by the COVID-19 outbreak, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers will be returned to Bangladesh by the end of the year.
Many undocumented migrant workers may not be able to return so easily unless they have money! Returning is expensive too due to procuring out pass permission.
However, women migrant workers face a higher risk of losing their livelihoods, having their human rights violated and risk contracting Corona virus. In this context, Bangladeshi missions in the workers’ host countries, especially in the Gulf and Levant, should play a more active role in helping them stay in their duty locations.
Bangladeshi missions in such countries need to intensify more concerted and coordinated efforts to alleviate the plight of women migrant workers fighting the epidemic situation in the GCC countries.