• Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Women face torture and abuse after migrating to Saudi Arabia

  • Published at 10:49 am May 28th, 2018
  • Last updated at 02:40 pm May 28th, 2018
Image of Sahanaj's passport, a women worker who went to Saudi Arabia from Manikganj in January Dhaka Tribune

Applications made in the Migration Program in Brac to bring the women back are yet to get any response 

Sahanaj, from Fakirpara village of Jaymantap union in Singair upazila of Manikganj left for Saudi Arabia in an attempt to change her fortune. She now faces physical and mental torture on a daily basis from her employer and his family, and barely gets three meals per day.

Leaving behind her husband Shamim, a day-labourer, and four-year-old son Tamim, Sahanaj thought she would be able to support her family financially, but after six months, she could only send back a trickle of money while facing starvation and inhuman torture abroad.

When this reporter went to Fakirpara village to investigate the situation on Saturday, a conversation with Abdul brought out the truth of Sahanaj's current situation in the Middle East. All the while, Sahanaj's son Tanim stood beside his grandfather, silently trying to understand whether his mother would come back or not.

A while later, Tanim's grandmother, Syeda Begum, took him and went to a neighbour's house.

Sahanaj's father informed this reporter that Sahanaj went to Saudi Arabia with the help of two agents, Sikder and Mohidur from Purbabhakumpur village of Jaymantap union, through Citycom International Travels in Fakirapool in the capital. The two agents promised Sahanaj a job of Tk18,000 per month, yet after she went to Saudi Arabia, she was forced to undergo physical and mental torture.

"She is fed one meal per day, instead of three," said Abdul. "If anything goes wrong with her work, she is beaten mercilessly. Her landlord makes her work from 4:30am until midnight every day."

After leaving home on January 23 for Saudi Arabia this year, Sahanaj's employer seized her passport and mobile phone, barring all ways of communication.

Even in this situation, Sahanaj managed to contact her father and begged Abdul to bring her back to Bangladesh at any cost.

Abdul further said the agents Sikder and Mohidur did not pay any attention to him when he went to them on behalf of his daughter. Instead, they demanded a price of Tk2.5 lakh in order to bring Sah back.

But Abdul does not possess the finances required to pay the agents. He works as a day labourer in a butcher's shop in Jaymantap bazar. He hardly gets to manage his own family with the small amount of money he earns. On top of that, he needs to support his grandson Tanim as well.

In this situation, it is impossible for him to pay Tk2.5 lakh to the agents.

Letter sent by Sahanaj's father to the Migration Program in Brac | Dhaka Tribune On March 14, Abdul filed an application to the Migration Program in Brac to bring Sahanaj from the Middle East. However, he is yet to get a response.

Three months have passed since Abdul and Syeda applied to Brac's Migration Program, with no results. They are still hopeful of getting a feedback soon.

Five months have passed since Sahanaj went to Saudi Arabia, yet she has only been able to send 2 months' wages to her family. Now, Abdul just wants his daughter to come back home healthy and well.

While in conversation with Sahanaj's mother Syeda Begum, she informed this reporter that she was supposed to go to Saudi Arabia as well. But due to various delays, she was unable to go.

Sahanaj's husband Shamim said: "It has been six years since we got married. I have no property in my name. I used to live with my wife and son in my father-in-law's house. Sahanaj went to Saudi Arabia to bring a change to our fortunes. Instead, her own life is now on the brink of destruction."

Shamim echoed Sahanaj's parents' sentiments, saying he barely possesses finances to feed his own mouth, let alone pay the agents. "I could only manage around Tk20,000," said Shamim. 

Also Read- 40 more Bangladeshi women workers return from Saudi Arabia

Others suffer in Manikganj

Just like Sahanaj, 38-year-old Banesa Begum from Dholla union of Jaymantap union is also facing both physical and mental torture from her employer in Saudi Arabia.

Banesa's husband died of cancer in 2015, leaving behind Banesa, their two daughters, and two sons. Soon, the family was steeped in financial crisis.

Even though Banesa's eldest daughter Shima got married soon thereafter, thinking of her other children- four-year-old Shwarna, 10-year-old Siam and 12-year-old Hanif- Banesa left for Saudi Arabia. The agents whose help she took promised her a sum of Tk20,000 every month after going there.

This reporter talked with Banesa's eldest daughter Shima's husband Sujon Mahmud, a kindergarten school teacher in a nearby village, on Saturday. Sujon reported his mother-in-law lives amid continuous torture from Banesa's employer in the Middle East.

"She is suffering a lot," said Sujon, referring to Banesa. "Her employer beats her for the smallest of errors. He does not feed her properly, and if she falls sick, he refuses to give her medicines."

Sujon says Banesa had infections in her mouth and hands a few months back. But her employer did not provide her with any treatment. Rather, he forced her to work in that situation.

After Sujon informed the agent of his mother-in-law's dire situation, he demanded a sum of Tk2 lakh to help bring Banesa back.

Later, Sujon and Shima applied to Brac's Migration Program. But they too have not received any response yet.

Sujon further said: "My sister-in-law, Shwarna, lives with my wife. She keeps searching for her mother, but she is too young to understand her mother left the family in search of fortune. But my brothers-in-law, Siam and Hanif, often cry whenever they hear about their mother's pain. But what can I do?"

After recently talking to Sujon, Banesa told him her health was deteriorating. On one hand, she was undergoing health deterioration, and on the other hand, she was undergoing torture from her employer. She only wants to come back to her home. 

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