The Daily Star (the Bangladesh version, not the Lebanese one) recently ran a piece on the accounts of Bangladeshi women who return from working in Saudi Arabia. Here's one woman's story:
When Sultana Akter, 19, daughter of Mukteruddin of Netrakona, arrived in Ma-Hawa-Maktab, a Saudi Arabia branch office of Akbar Enterprise, a recruiting agency based in Dhaka, she was taken to the house of an Arab named Ahammad on July 27.
As soon as she reached the house, her mistress ordered her to wash clothes. When Sultana said she was very tired and hungry after the long travel, the callous mistress started beating her.
Sultana had to wash clothes and then go to bed in an empty stomach, as she was not given any food, she told The Daily Star. Minutes after Sultana's going to bed, her employer locked the room's door from outside.
At midnight Ahammad entered the room and attempted to rape her, Sultana said, adding, "Despite my strong resistance, he almost unclothed me, but I cried and managed to leave the room and took shelter at the room of the mistress," she said.
Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Chan'ad Bahraini reports on a new proposal to reduce employers' hold on their migrant workers, particularly through their ability to take away passports:
It is a very common practice in Bahrain and the Gulf for the passport and travel documents of migrant workers to be confiscated and withheld by their employers/sponsors. Unsuspecting migrant workers hand over their documents as they are not aware of their rights; employers and sponsors often use this collateral to bully, abuse and hold the workers hostage.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights released a report today about the tragic effects that this practice continues to have on migrant workers in Bahrain. The report provides a very good overview of the different aspects of passport-withholding, using the examples of a few individual cases. Most notable however is the excellent set of recommendations at the end of the report, aimed towards the Bahraini authorities, the foreign embassies as well as local civil societies.
As they like to say, read the whole thing. But it's nice to see local human rights groups trying to address the endemic problem of foreign worker abuse in the Gulf. Of course, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights is officially banned by the regime...