Bangladeshi Domestic Workers Call to Stop Gender Based Violence

Bangladeshi domestic workers continue to face various forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including sexual harassment, physical torture, killing and rape during the Corona pandemic, the victims and activists said on Tuesday.  

Speaking at a discussion the victim workers, their rights campaigners and the trade union leaders have urged the government of Bangladesh to take immediate steps to stop the gender-based violence and protect the country’s domestic workers through establishing their legal rights.

They demanded immediate ratifications of the International Labour Organizations (ILO) Conventions 189 and 190 by the government of Bangladesh for protection of millions of the  domestic workers who were in vulnerable conditions.

National Domestic Women Workers Union (NDWWU) organized the discussion at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity in the city on Tuesday (December 8, 2020) marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

A group of 100 domestic workers who took part in the discussion narrated their sufferings and oppression during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Domestic worker and NDWWU member Aktari Begum who came from a place in Dhaka city said that her adolescent daughter has been sexually harassed by a local goon. The youth still continued threaten herself, she said.

Aktari Begum said that she did not get justice from law enforcing agencies despite she lodged complaints and sought their helps.

Domestic worker Amena Khatun of Mirpur said that during the lockdown in May and June this year she had been forced to borrow BDT 6000 to pay house rent. She lost the job and her husband, a carpenter, also lost job during the pandemic, she said.

A four member family fell in problems due to lack of income, she said.

Another domestic worker Lucky Akter who hailed from Khilgoan area of Dhaka city said that during the lockdown she was denied the wages of two months. She also said that she was forced to get out from the employer’s house amid pandemic.

Another domestic worker Shilpi Akter of Malibagh said that she has lost her job during the lockdown and still she remained without getting job. But her family was passing in hardship, she claimed.

NDWWU joint general secretary Nasima Akter said that many domestic workers did not get reliefs during lockdown from the local government authorities due to lack of their national Identity cards.

Presiding over the discussion, NDWWU general secretary Murshida Akter Nahar demanded ratification of ILO convention 189 and 190 to protect the domestic workers of Bangladesh.

She called upon the government for recognition and remuneration of the works of the women domestic workers.

Speaking as chief guest, senior trade union leader Abul Hosain, also Dhaka City unit president of Bangladesh Worker’s Party said that Bangladesh should immediately ratify the ILO Convention 189 and 190 to achieve the result of its demographic dividend.

He said that the ILO convention 189 and 190 were adopted during the 100th session of the International Labour Organizatio on 16 June 2011 in Geneva.

The conventions gave the rights to domestic workers as decent work with daily and weekly (at least 24 h) rest hours, entitlement to the minimum wage and to choose the place where they live and spend their leave.

‘Domestic workers across the country should get united to realize their rights and uphold their dignity,’ said 63 year old Abul Hossain who helped forming NDWWU two decade ago.

He put emphasis on forming committee in 123 wards in Dhaka City Corporation.

“We want to arrange a congress of domestic workers in the new year in Dhaka city brining with over 10,000 women workers to press the demands,” he expressed his hope.

More participants including NDWWU president, it's Advisor and Garment Workers leaders also spoke on this occasion. 

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