“I’ve never met my wife”


Ziur Rahman. Bangladeshi.

Ziur Rahman has lived in Malaysia for 10 years. He has held many jobs including a stint at Pizza Hut. The last time he applied for a work permit, he paid RM15,000 to a middleman who did not deliver. This was not the first time he had been cheated. What should he do? These con-men know well that Ziur will not make a police report. Just who are these con-men? And so, the abuse continues.

Bangladeshis make up the highest percentage of applications for proper documentation. An activist has said only 10% of applications are successful. (I was not able to verify this) They need this documentation so they may travel freely between Bangladesh and Malaysia for work. Unlike some undocumented Indonesians who can make a clandestine boat trip across the Straits of Melaka whenever they’re homesick, Bangladesh is simply too far away. This inability to obtain proper documents also means that the Bangladeshis remain vulnerable to extortion, no access to health benefits and low pay.

Ziur’s parents arranged for him to be married 9 years ago. It is quite common for Bangladeshis to have their marriage arranged. He has never seen his wife in person but only through video chats.

Perhaps he will see his wife one day but he won’t till he has made enough money. Ziur said, “How can I possibly face my wife and family if I come home empty handed?”

Note: More information can be found at the Migrant88 website or you can reach them at email, an action based NGO aimed at promoting and protecting the dignity and well-being of Bangladeshi migrants (abroad) and their familes at home. Volunteers are always welcome.

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