Supporting vulnerable migrants in Bangladesh

20 April 2018

Young women from Bangladesh considering migrating to the Middle East get information from a CAFOD partner

Young women from Bangladesh considering migrating to the Middle East get information from a CAFOD partner 

Each year in Bangladesh around 800,000 people migrate to find work overseas. Around half of people travel legally. The other half migrate through unofficial channels.

Many of these migrants put themselves at risk of human trafficking.

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What is happening in Bangladesh?

Most Bangladeshi migrants move to find jobs in the Middle East and South East Asia.  Many are from lower educational backgrounds,  are unskilled and are often male.

In the last few years, more women have been migrating into unskilled jobs, especially as domestic workers. Even though Bangladeshi laws and policies encourage safe migration, migrants often face:

  • Violence and intimidation
  • Not being paid a minimum wage
  • Human trafficking

Who is most at risk in Bangladesh? 

Women and girls who migrate for work  face the risk of sexual abuse.

Some migrate through Bangladeshi recruitment agencies to Lebanon or Jordan for domestic work. They are then sold, transported to Syria and subjected to sex trafficking.

A 2016 report by our partner OKUP (Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme) found that 58.5% of domestic workers in Lebanon experienced physical torture. 13% experienced sexual abuse.

CAFOD campaigns for the rights of refugees and migrants around the world.

Who is our partner in Bangladesh?

Our partner OKUP is a Bangladeshi migrants’ organisation. OKUP works directly with migrant communities to promote safe migration and an end to human trafficking.

OKUP works to protect migrants’ basic human rights in both Bangladesh and destination countries. These rights include:

  • Movement
  • Employment
  • Dignity
  • Health

How are we working with OKUP Bangladesh?

We are working in partnership with OKUP on an EU funded project. This project focusses on the rights of women and girl domestic workers.

The project aims to help around 7,200 women and girls who are  thinking about migrating, or will migrate.  

 Some of the main things the project does is to:

  • Support women and girl migrant workers to uphold and call for their rights and seek justice
  • Work with decision makers (judges, lawyers and government officials) to provide access to justice  for women and girl migrant workers
  • Help policy makers at national and international level to take action to protect women and girl migrant workers

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What else does OKUP do in Bangladesh?

OKUP’s work tackles the whole migration cycle - From the training that happens before migrants leave, to offering support during migration.

Families who are left behind, particularly women and children receive health support and advice on how to manage finances.

OKUP helps returning migrants fit back into their communities. OKUP also links them to healthcare services in the case where women have been abused.

OKUP works on safe migration at many levels and has  developed strong relationships with many stakeholders including the Bangladeshi government and Bangladeshi embassies in host countries such as Lebanon and Malaysia.

How can you help?

The number of vulnerable and exploited migrants is a current and growing concern in Bangladesh. The situation in Bangladesh reflects a wider global migration and refugee crisis.

The reasons why people leave their homes are varied but the effects and outcomes are often shared.

The Share the Journey campaign is an opportunity for you to show your support for all people forced to move. Walk in solidarity with refugees and migrants by continuing to support the Share the Journey campaign.

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