11/06/2019, 16.06
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Abused Bangladeshi women slam brutality in Saudi Arabia

by Sumon Corraya

Between January and August 2019, at least 850 female workers managed to escape from Saudi Arabia. Between 2016 and 2019, the bodies 311 women were repatriated to Bangladesh. Nazma’s story is typical: killed for rebelling against being raped.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Nazma Begum, 40, left Manikgonj, Bangladesh seeking her fortune in Saudi Arabia working as a maid; in the Gulf country, she met instead her death at the hand of her employer and his son who killed because she dared to rebel against daily sexual abuse and harassment.

Before her murder, she had contacted the Bangladeshi Embassy in Riyadh asking for help, but no one heeded her plea. Her story is one of the many endured by women going to Saudi Arabia to work.

Her fate, like that of other victims, was heard a few days ago at a protest march in Dhaka, attended by hundreds of people. The rally, which was held at the press club on Friday, was organised by Samajtantrik Mohila Forum, an organisation that defends women's rights.

"The government of Bangladesh speaks only of remittances from abroad to develop the country’s economy,” said Rawsan Ara Rosho, the association’s president, speaking to AsiaNews. “It takes no action for female workers victims of abuse and persecution. We are here to protest for all of them.”

Sexual violence and torture endured by domestic workers in Saudi Arabia is a widespread complaint by women who work in the kingdom to support their families and improve their lives.

According to Rawan, some 850 female workers managed to escape between January and August 2019 and return to Bangladesh; 109 in the month of August alone. "They came back to escape physical, sexual and psychological persecution,” she explained.

Not all of them come home alive. This year, the bodies of 119 women arrived home from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

The association demands that justice be done for female workers and that negligent embassy officials be charged.

According to BRAC, an NGO that helps migrant female workers who manage to escape from situation of violence, most of the workers who go to the Mideast kingdom suffer some form of violence.

Between 2016 and June 2019, the bodies of 311 women were repatriated to Bangladesh from the Gulf countries. At least 30 are said to have “committed suicide” because they could no longer endure brutal conditions, 19 in Saudi Arabia.

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