Ismat left home for Dubai as her day labourer husband Helal Uddin, who had been remaining sick almost all year round, could not manage to earn enough to meet everyday expenditures. She got married when she was 14 and has been facing hardship since then.
Ismat, who had no money, had to collect 60,000 Taka to finance her trip to Dubai. Some of the money was donated by her neighbours and some of it came from personal loans. Ashraful, a manpower agent from Rampal village in Munshiganj, Bangladesh, managed a visa to Dubai for her as a domestic help.
Only after 15 days of her initiation at work as a domestic help in an eight-member family in Dubai, the housewife and three of her daughters unleashed endless torture on Ismat, even over the simplest unintended mistakes. She was never allowed to meet anyone and was kept isolated from the outside world.
The one-storey house where she used to work was in a huge compound with twelve rooms, five bathrooms, and two big balconies. As the lone domestic help everyday she had to wash all the rooms, clean all the furniture, prepare food, make tea, wash clothes, and serve every single person in the family even with glasses of water.
Ismat could never take a second's break all through the day as she used to be submerged in a pile of work. If she would be busy with a chore, someone of the family would be calling her with another chore, and quite often as she would run in a hurry from one chore to another leaving the previous one half done, she would earn bouts of beatings.
To be able to manage the work load with an intention to avoid beatings she would have to work 22 hours a day, still she would not always be able to evade the daily beatings. Sometimes she would not be allowed to sleep for two days in a row. Whenever she would try to take some rest due to debilitating exhaustion, the entire family of the employer would descend on her. Mariam, the housewife, and her three daughters used to beat her in a locked room. She used to be fed only once a day and her salary was only 8,000 Taka (equivalent in AED) a month.
Not being able to take the inhumane torture anymore, which had gone on for seven months, she at last thought of a way out and threatened to commit suicide if she was not sent back home.
The day before she was sent back, Mariam banged Ismat's head against a wall twice for delaying in ironing a garment.The article was published in The Daily Star.
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