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Migrant worker exploitation

More effective role is needed in manpower export

Editorial  Desk

Editorial Desk

Sat, 25 May 24

There is no hesitation in saying that a segment of Bangladesh's middle class has developed due to the income of migrant workers. Many migrant workers, upon returning to the country, have started businesses and trade ventures. They have invested in agriculture, built houses, increased their farmland, and constructed buildings. Observing this, many people in the 1990s and subsequent decades have been encouraged to go abroad.

And as the number of these workers has increased, a group of brokers and recruiting agencies has sprung up all over the country. Many people who have gone abroad through brokers and illegal recruiting agencies have not secured proper jobs. Numerous reports have surfaced of individuals being deceived and losing everything. These stories are widely known throughout the country and villages. As a result, ordinary people are now very aware of these issues. The government has also taken significant initiatives to protect the public from the clutches of broker networks and illegal recruiting agencies. Despite these efforts, many people still fall into these traps and put their lives at risk.

Especially under the guise of free visas, many people still travel to Middle Eastern countries. If they don't find work upon arrival, many are left to survive without food, often borrowing money from friends or receiving funds from home. We know of numerous reports of people failing to find work in Middle Eastern countries, attempting to cross the Mediterranean to reach European countries, and tragically drowning when their boats capsized. The most horrifying aspect is that many women who go abroad for work are subjected to physical abuse. Many returns home empty-handed after failing to find work, and some come back in coffins.

Another dreadful aspect is that those who travel abroad illegally often endure police brutality and imprisonment. Falling into the hands of nefarious broker networks can make life even worse. These networks prevent individuals from returning home, intimidate and abuse them, and force them to work as much as possible day and night. They do not pay wages and instead threaten to kill the detained individuals to extort money from their families back home.

Recently, the outcry of a young man detained in Kyrgyzstan spread across social media, shocking the world with the horrors of this modern slavery system. The tragic fate of Bangladeshi migrant workers was laid bare. According to a news report published last Thursday (May 23), two years ago, Arif was working at an electronics shop in Dhaka with a relative. It was there that he met Tuhin, a manpower broker. Tuhin enticed Arif with the promise of a job in Malaysia and took 400,000 taka from him. However, instead of sending him to Malaysia, Tuhin arranged an emergency visa and sent him to Kyrgyzstan.

Upon reaching the country's airport, Arif couldn't find anyone and spent three helpless days. Eventually, he ended up in a Pakistani hotel out of desperation. Fearful of being arrested by the police, Arif joined agricultural work through a broker. The broker kept him captive and subjected him to various forms of mental torture. Through social media, Arif conveyed the ordeal to the outside world via a video message, showing the exploitation he was enduring. Watching the video, Arif's parents were overcome with grief.

Due to various socio-economic and political reasons, countless Bangladeshis are compelled to seek employment abroad. The number of job opportunities in Middle Eastern countries is declining, along with various political and economic instabilities. Consequently, there has been a significant decrease in official manpower exports by the government. The number of unemployed and underemployed individuals in the country is increasing.

Hence, many individuals are resorting to risky ventures to go abroad, risking their lives in the process. This decision not only puts their own lives in danger but also causes immense distress and worry for their families and loved ones. It's essential for everyone to be personally aware that no temptation is worth risking their lives for and that going abroad should only be done through legal means.

The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment also needs to increase manpower exports. Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that no broker networks or illegal recruiting agencies can jeopardize anyone's life. Without an effective role from the government in manpower export, there is no way out of this situation. So, no more young people should find themselves in situations like Arif's. It's imperative to address this matter with the relevant authorities immediately.

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