Officials of government and non-government organisations and leaders of trade unions and civil society said that area-based awareness should be raised to establish the rights and dignity of domestic workers after including them in the labour law. The speakers made the call at the national dialogue on ensuring the rights, protection and decent work of domestic workers organised by BILS Securing Rights Project at the CIRDAP auditorium in the capital on October 31, 2021.
Speaking as the chief guest, National Human Rights Commission Member Jesmin Ara Begum, said that the labour law should be amended to bring domestic workers under the protection of the law and to ensure recognition of their work. However, she said that not only the law should be amended, but also the proper implementation of the law should be ensured. She further said that due to lack of witnesses and compromise of the complainants in the cases of domestic violence, the cases are not disposed properly. She called for raising awareness in the minds of the people and said that not only the training of domestic workers but also the mentality of the employers should be changed.
Speakers at the meeting said that if they get employment in the country at a fair wage through proper training, the domestic workers need not to go abroad and be tortured. They said that in order to determine the contribution of domestic workers to GDP, it is necessary to define the correct definition of domestic workers. It also requires accurate statistics of domestic workers, they added. They also emphasized on providing easy terms loans to domestic workers and ensuring their right to organise, holidays, rest, eight hours of work, maternity leave and fair wages.
BILS Chairman Md. Habibur Rahman Shiraz presided over the dialogue and Domestic Workers Rights Network (DWRN) Acting Coordinator Abul Hossain Acted as a moderator. BILS Secretary General Nazrul Islam Khan, Advisory Council Member Mesbahuddin Ahmed, Joint Secretary General Dr. Wajedul Islam Khan, NGO Affairs Bureau Director (Joint Secretary) Jinat Ara, Ministry of Labour and Employment Deputy Secretary (Export Oriented Industries) Mahbuba Bilkis, Ministry of Social Welfare Deputy Secretary (Social Security) Muhammad Shakir Ahmed Chowdhury, Department of Labour Director Md. Bellal Hossain Sheikh, Department of Social Services Officer K M Shahiduzzaman, Informal Sector-ISC Vice Chairman Munsur Hasan Khandaker, ILO Dhaka Office Program Officer Shahabuddin Khan, Oxfam in Bangladesh Project Coordinator Geeta Rani Adhikari, BILS Director Nazma Yesmin, Deputy Director and Project Coordinator Md. Yousuf Al Mamun spoke at the dialogue. Senior government officials, researchers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, trade union leaders, Domestic Workers Right Network leaders, civil society representatives, journalists and leaders of various professional organizations were also present.