ASK’s intervention-Statement of Majeda Begum: Victim of Human Trafficking Rescued from Saudi Arabia

Majeda Begum (not her real name), mother of three children who used to live with her children and husband in Bhola, Bangladesh left for Saudi Arabia with a dream of better life for her family on June 23, 2017. She was approached regarding employment in Saudi Arabia by two representatives of government-sanctioned manpower recruiting agency Aviate International in May, 2017. They told that though the programme was in offer but if she pays some money they will assure better employment. Majeda duly paid Tk 80,000 for better opportunity. She was promised that she will be working in a large family living in Al-Qassim region of Saudi Arabia.

But within a week of her arrival in Saudi Arabia, she realized that she has become a victim of human trafficking when she lost her mobile in the house of the employer. She found herself repeatedly being accosted by men and facing attempted rape. Following her resistance she was physically assaulted by the employer. They even did not allow her to call in home; she was severally starved for days and allowed to drink only a bottle of water. However, she managed to make a call to her husband and told him about the terrible situation. He started making contact with employment agency but they refused to bring her back rather threatened him.

Meanwhile, she refused to do work there and was taken to an office where she was kept with 30 other women from various countries in a tin shed of the roof. They were inhumanly tortured there and told to do whatever they are asked to do at houses. Later on, she was sent to Tabuk, another region of Saudi Arabia and appointed in another house there. But the scenarios remain unchanged. She was sent to hospital after being brutally tortured. Somehow, she managed to escape from the hospital and could call her husband once again. Her husband Ashraf (not his real name) then decided to try in a new way and contacted a friend of him living in Saudi and asked him to look for Majeda. This friend however managed to allocate Majeda in the hospital and took her picture and sent it to Ashraf. He again went to the office of the Aviate International in Bijoynagar, where he was told that it would require Tk 3 lakhs to bring her back. He then filed a GD in Ramna Police Station and complained to RAB-1 besides contact Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK). After hearing the matter and examining the photos provided by Ashraf, ASK made contact with the relevant Ministry (The Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and The Embassy of Bangladesh in Saudi Arabia requesting them to rescue Majeda Begum. On the basis of ASK’s appeal MoFA and Bangladesh Embassy took immediate steps to rescue Majeda Begum. Finally on 17 August, 2017, Majeda Begum returned to Bangladesh.