Besides NGO representatives, Minister for Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Imran Ahmed was also present at the seminar. He acknowledged the plight of women migrants and urged government and non-government organisations to work together to solve the issue.

The problems of migrant women workers is not as insignificant as the minister may have tried to project. From recruitment to getting jobs overseas, migrant workers have to face fraud at almost every level of this long process. In some cases some unscrupulous officials in the ministry of expatriate welfare are involved in this fraudulence.

A quarter of manpower exporting agencies traffic women abroad by luring them with promises of lucrative jobs. If they are not brought to book, the sufferings of migrant women workers will not end. Many countries have stopped sending women workers to some countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, due to torture and harassment while we are still sending female workers to the country with great enthusiasm. We could support the government policy had the women workers not been tortured. Those countries hardy provide any opportunity for legal remedy.

The minister said that there is a demand for women workers in several countries including Germany and Japan. This is definitely good news because the human rights situation in these countries is relatively good and the governments are accountable.

Developed countries like Germany and Japan can be an attractive destination for women workers if the government can keep the immigration process transparent. But before sending women workers abroad, they need to be trained as skilled manpower. In that case they will have the opportunity to work for a higher salary. Similarly, the risk of being cheated or tortured will reduce.

We are not against sending women workers abroad. However, the government has to assure that no one will be tortured while staying there. At the same time, transparency and accountability must be ensured in the immigration process. Remember, these women workers are not only helping their families, they are also playing an important role in keeping the country's economy vibrant.

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