Watching people go abroad had grown Shahnaz Khaton’s hope for a better life in other countries. After convincing her worried family, she managed to go through a middle man who cost her a fortune for a passport and training in Dhaka.
The very next day upon her arrival in Lebanon, Shahnaz was taken to the office and sold to a household where she worked as a domestic worker. For Shahnaz who had a hope for a better earning in a secure working environment, the reality was harsh. The employer beat her repeatedly, because they did not like how she works. She was not well fed, either.
While her constant protest and cry for help being neglected by the office, one day the torture escalated to level where her figure was broken. Yet, Shahnaz did not have a choice, and continued to work.
“I was even tortured at the office. My hands and legs were all tied up and the employer tortured me in ways I can’t explain, so I hope you understand…” Shahnaz had a hard time finding words to describe the horrifying experience she had gone through at a session organization by IOM with big name global brands on promoting ethical recruitment practices and eliminating modern slavery.
One day Shahnaz managed to contact a Bangladeshi who was also working in Lebanon. With his help she escaped and took shelter in a mess. Within couple of days she was able to reach out to the Embassy of Bangladesh and flew back home with little money she had saved.
On her return, Shahnaz was provided with land lease of 48,000 BDT, cows of 25,000 BDT and goat of 5,4000 BDT as household support by IOM’s Building Resilience of Returnee Migrants through Economic Reintegration and Community Empowerment. She was also provided with different kinds of training on safe migration, cow rearing and cow disease control and management. While the debt had taken a heavy toll on her, such reintegration assistance has helped her overcome economic burdens and social stigma.
“Once I came back, people started saying so many things. I felt shattered and often thought that I should just end my life. But now, I am happy to be able to engage myself in agribusiness and have a good life through IOM’s trainings and financial support,” said Shahnaz
For decades, lack of knowledge has been one of the reasons for Bangladeshi migrants becoming victims of abuse, exploitation and unethical recruitment practices by employers. Proper pre-migration information, inclusive and accessible workers representation for migrants and ethical recruitment practices must be ensured. While IOM is continuing to work with different stakeholders to ensure safe and orderly migration process in Bangladesh, the UN migration agency is also encouraging its partners to build stronger commitments on ethical recruitment, take concrete actions to address migrant workers vulnerabilities and collaborate with others to achieve sustainable solutions.
Learn more about: