02/19/2016, 11.58
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"Slave" workers in Saudi Arabia: We want to go home, enough ill-treatment

by Sumon Corraya

Last year Dhaka and Riyadh signed an agreement to send 120 thousand workers to Arabia. In 2015, 20,952 women left for Arabia, but many have already returned. They recounted stories of abuse and threats, domestic slaves by day, sex slaves by night. Saudi recruiter: "We love Bangladeshi women because they are Muslim and wear a headscarf."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Bangladeshi migrant women who travelled to the Saudi kingdom in search of work now want to return to the country of origin because of continuing harassment they suffer. Many of them have already returned and denounced the slave-like working conditions to which they were subjected by day as maids in the house, and that at night they were forced to satisfy the sexual desires of male employers and employees.

Bangladesh suspended the sending of women workers to Saudi Arabia for seven years, allowing only men to migrate. But last year the Dhaka authorities have signed an agreement that also provides for the migration of women. They are educated in the country of origin, where the government has opened 26 centers for the professional training of maids and servants. Then they leave for the Middle Eastern countries, where, however, many suffer threats and sexual abuse.

The agreement between the two governments is to send 120 thousand Bangladeshi women in the coming years. In 2015 there were 20,952 migrant workers, but many of them have already returned. Monira Akter (not her real name) is one of them and she told AsiaNews: "I followed the training course organized by the government to learn how to carry out domestic chores, but I could not do my job properly because my employer wanted to force me to have sex. " "I did not go there to sell my body – she complains - I emigrated to raise money for my family."

The woman says she knows five other workers who have suffered the same fate. Another victim of this exploitation reveals: "My master treated me badly, he did not allow me to call in Bangladesh and so I came back."

Abdul Aziz, a Saudi who recruits women in Bangladesh, admits: "We love the Bangladeshi workers because they are Muslim and wear the burka [the full veil that leaves only the eyes uncovered, ed]."

Rosaline Costa, Catholic activist, said: "It is not difficult to understand why women do not want to go to Saudi Arabia, when you consider the way they are exploited by employers: by day slaves in the house, sex slaves at night" .

The activist believes that the recently approved provision, to allow a male relative to accompany workers as a "guardian" is insufficient. “They have no way - he says – to help their relatives. People are helpless and without legal protection, since their passport and airline ticket are withdrawn and they do not know where to seek help if they have problems at night".

She concludes: "Given the recent news of exploitation, the relatives of the workers no longer want to allow their departure, if it means that almost all of them will be forced to be sex slaves for the employer and for his male employees."

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