Domestic workers flee torture and enslavement in Saudi Arabia

The number of migrants returning since the beginning of the year has reached almost 400. Last year there were over 1,500. Since 2015, at least 5,000 have managed to flee the Saudi hell. All of them report rape, torture and unpaid wages.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ninety more Bangladeshi women employed in Saudi Arabia as domestic workers arrived at Dhaka International Airport yesterday.

They were met by representatives of Building Resources Across Communities (BRAC), an NGO that helps migrants who manage to escape from places of torture.

All of them “were tortured by employers,” says Shariful Hasan, head of BRAC’s Migration Program

With the latest arrivals, the number of migrant workers returning from the Saudi hell reached 200 this month, whilst another 182 women managed to escape in January.

According to the Bangladeshi NGO, more than 1,500 women returned home last year.

The association estimates that between 1991 and 2018 about 700,000 women went abroad for work, almost 250,000 in Saudi Arabia alone.

In 2015, the governments of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement on sending female workers as domestic help.

Since then, poor women, mostly from rural areas in Bangladesh, have travelled to Saudi Arabia with hopes and dreams of improving their standards of living.

However, around 5,000 female Bangladeshi workers have fled Saudi Arabia since 2015, due to various reasons, ranging from failure to adapt to the foreign culture, to torture, sexual abuse, and irregularities in the payment of their wages.

Typically, these women fail to adapt to the local gender relations whereby women must submit to male desires.