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 Sunday, 20 October, 2002, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Dhaka discusses women migrants
Delegates at a sex workers conference
Experts say many Bangladeshi women migrants are forced into sex trade.

A conference In Dhaka has been discussing issues related to trafficking and migration of women to the Middle East and India.

Women... are forced into sex work when they had not been told about this, not prepared for it, especially migrants to the Middle East

Therese Blanchet, Author of a new report

The conference focused on the plight of thousands of Bangladeshi women and girls, many below the age of eighteen, who work in the sex trade in Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

A report released to coincide with the conference reveals that Bangladeshi women are still being sucked into the sex trade overseas even though the government has banned single, unskilled females from travelling alone to most Middle Eastern countries.

The report provides new insights into the plight of young Bangladeshi women who end up working in the sex trade of the Middle East and India.

A survey was conducted of nearly 500 women who were employed either as domestic workers or as cleaners in schools or hospitals.

A majority in both categories said they had no option but to carry out full- or part-time sex work because their salaries were so low.

Ban criticised

Many domestic workers surveyed said that if they did not do this they would lose their jobs.

"The finding of the study is that yes, there is a considerable amount of exploitation -- women who are forced into sex work when they had not been told about this, not prepared for it -- especially for migrants to the Middle East, said the author of the report, Therese Blanchet.

She said women have to pay large sums of money -- or rather, their families have to pay large sums of money.

According to Mrs Blanchet it was imperative that the Bangladeshi government lift its ban on unskilled single women from travelling to the Middle East.

She said the ban did not stop women from migrating, did not protect their rights and only added to their costs.

She said that resources would be better directed towards teaching women about the dangers of sexually-transmitted diseases.

See also:

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