Understanding Exploitation: Indian and Bangladeshi Labor Migration to GCC Countries
October 3, 2019
Overseas labor migration plays an important role in the economies of many developing countries. Unskilled or low-skilled workers often lack sufficient local options for employment. By migrating to countries that have shortages in lower-skilled labor, these workers can earn higher incomes and savings. While such migration offers tremendous opportunities, both for individual migrants and for entire economies, it also exposes many migrants to exploitation and modern slavery. An estimated one fourth of the victims of forced labor are international migrant workers (IOM, 2019).
For job-seeking low-skilled migrant workers from India and Bangladesh (source countries), GCC countries (destination countries) have long been a top destination. Based on official migration figures, in 2017, 8.9 million Indians and 3.1 million Bangladeshis were living in the six GCC countries (IOM, 2017). Within GCC countries, 95% of the workers active in the domestic and construction sectors are migrant workers (ILO, 2017), the majority of which are unskilled or semi-skilled (BMET, 2018 and ILO, 2018).
Annual documented migration flows to the GCC range in the hundreds of thousands for both countries. In 2017 alone, nearly 800,000 Bangladeshis migrated to the GCC (BMET, 2018). Figures that include undocumented migrants are likely to be much higher
GFEMS has identified overseas labor migration as a sector with a high potential for scalable and sustainable impact due to its estimated high rate of prevalence across geographies. To gain insight into the most promising areas for intervention within the sector, GFEMS commissioned a collection of scoping studies in India and Bangladesh to:
- Better understand the drivers of forced or bonded labor among overseas migrant workers (political, economic, social, cultural, legal, technological environmental, etc.)
- Gain insights into the vulnerability of victims, potential victims, and survivors of forced and bonded labor
- Receive input from survivors and those vulnerable to forced or bonded labor into the Fund’s intervention strategy
- Better understand the overseas labor recruitment industry in Bangladesh from a commercial standpoint and provide insights on its size, structure, competitive dynamics, and other significant features.
To discover our learnings, download the briefing.