Bangladeshi female worker Hosna rescued in Saudi Arabia

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Dhaka, November 26: The authorities in Saudi Arabia have rescued a Bangladeshi housemaid after she appealed for help in a video call to her husband where she made allegations of torture.The Bangladesh Consulate in Jeddah said in a statement on Monday night that the woman, Hosna Akter, was taken to a safe home under police watch in Najran.

KM Salahudin, the first secretary at the labour wing of the consulate, said in the statement that the process to fly her to Bangladesh was under way.

“The consulate moved swiftly after seeing media reports on her,” he said.

The consulate first gathered the name and phone number of the Bangladeshi recruiting agency, Arab World Distribution, from Mohammad Kamrul Hasan, the deputy commissioner of Habiganj, from where the woman is.

It then collected the name and number of Ruad Najran, the Saudi agency that recruited Hosna.

The agency told the consulate that Hosna was at the safe home under police watch, according to the statement.

“The agency told our representative that the process to send her back to Bangladesh was under way.

“The consulate representative has also talked to the house help. She said she was safe now,” the consulate said.

Earlier, media reported the video released on social media by her husband after the Bangladeshi agency allegedly demanded Tk 100,000 from him and used invectives about his wife.

The 24-year-old woman from Habiganj’s Ajmiriganj went to Saudi Arabia around three weeks ago, on a Tk 22,000 monthly pay contract.

In the video call, the woman appealed for return to Bangladesh alleging “unbearable torture” by her employer.

“They tortured me more when I told them I wanted to return home. The people in the agency treated me badly when I called them. I can’t bear it anymore. Please save me in any way,” she told her husband.

She fell ill due to “excessive pressure of work and torture”, the man said.

On Nov 15, Sumi Akter of Panchagar returned home from Saudi Arabia after her appeal for help on a similar video drew huge criticism of the authorities for their “failure” to stop torture and sexual abuse of Bangladeshi women in the Gulf kingdom.

She was among at least 961 women who returned from Saudi Arabia in 10 months this year.

Forty-eight of them died there.

Bangladesh has sent 330,590 female workers to Saudi Arabia since June, 2014, according to the government.

They are among 868,363 sent to as many as 74 countries, mostly to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Mauritius.

Earlier on Monday, the parliamentary standing committee on the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment rejected a call by women’s rights organisations and opposition lawmakers to stop sending women to Saudi Arabia.

“But the allegations must be handled with importance. Female workers’ safety must be prioritised,” the committee’s Chairman Anisul Islam Mahmud told the media after a meeting.

The ministry informed the committee in the meeting that “Musaned’, a platform for lodging online complaint of housemaids has already been there in Saudi Arabia since 2015, but the system is yet to be used vastly. A widespread use of the platform may ensure safety of the housemaids.

The committee recommended communicating with the foreign governments to stop torture of Bangladeshi female workers abroad, according to a statement.