Migration, livelihoods and SRHR: A triple case-study of young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Consortium

Coordinator: Dr Ellen Bal, VU University, Department of Anthropology

Consortium members

  • Dr Ainoon Naher, Jahangir Nagar University, Department of Anthropology
  • Dr Lorraine Nencel, VU University, Department of Sociology
  • Dr Meghna Guhathakurta, Research Initiatives Bangladesh
  • Sanjeeb Drong, IPDS, Dhaka
  • Mohammad Tofazzal Hossain, President, BSSF/Md Sohrab Ali, Program Coordinator
  • Habib Rahman, HARC, Dhaka

Summary of results (2019)

Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has experienced a rapid social and economic transformation coinciding with a high rate of female migration into the urban areas. This project addressed the sexual and reproductive health of three highly vulnerable groups of female migrants in Dhaka: 1) ready-made garment workers, 2) Garo beauty parlour workers, and 3) hotel- and residence-based sex workers. We also looked at how their migrant position and income activities influenced their self-determination and sexual autonomy, while living and working in the urban context. The research used a variety of qualitative methods, including participatory action research (PAR) and the use of peer researchers, and involved an intensive collaboration between academics, local organizations and members of our research groups. We approached SRHR as grounded and contextualized in the daily lives of the women. The research was complicated by the fact that talking about sexuality proved very difficult, and required highly sensitive research methods. We also discovered that most women had access to, knowledge of and experience with birth control methods. Their inconsistent and irregular use of them influenced their SRH and often ended in pregnancies. Spaces where women can openly ask questions and discuss their concerns are needed. Thirdly, the existing patriarchal relations play a role in decision making about family planning. SRHR programs need to include men to help them reflect on their roles, increase their knowledge, and acknowledge that men also need to take care of their own sexual and reproductive health. Fourthly, we found that the labour conditions and lab or organization go beyond healthy working environments and also include the way work is organized. The absence of labour rights and the inability to organize, whether because it is forbidden (domestics/RMG) or because the work is illegal (sex workers) limits the possibilities of strengthening SRHR.

Summary of progress

Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has experienced a rapid social and economic transformation coinciding with a high rate of urban-rural migration. An increasing number of labour migrants are women. Young female labour migrants (YFMs) have transgressed traditional gender roles by becoming increasingly mobile, independent and present in public spaces. This project addresses the sexual and reproductive health of three highly vulnerable groups of YFMs in Dhaka: 1) ready-made garment workers, 2) Garo beauty parlour workers, and 3) hotel- and residence-based sex workers. It aims to obtain a better understanding of their knowledge, needs and desires regarding their SRH, and their (in)ability to claim their SRH rights. It looks at how their migrant position and income activities influence their self-determination and sexual autonomy while living and working in the urban context. It approaches SRHR as grounded and contextualized in their daily lives. The research uses a variety of qualitative methods, including participatory action research and smartphone ethnography. The project has a highly collaborative nature between academics, local organizations and members of our research groups. Research outcomes including a documentary and interactive clips will provide insights and recommendations for improving policies, programs and projects oriented to these specific groups of YFMs.

Summary

Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has experienced a rapid social and economic transformation. These developments have coincided with a high rate of urban?rural migration. An increasing number of labour migrants are women. New forms of gendered mobilities have challenged traditional forms of sexual identity formation and practices. Whereas women were excluded from the labour market through hegemonic notions like purdah, young female labour migrants (YFMs) have transgressed traditional gender roles by becoming increasingly mobile, independent and present in public spaces. This project addresses the sexual and reproductive health of three groups of highly vulnerable YFMs in Dhaka. It aims to obtain a better understanding of their knowledge, needs and desires regarding their SRH, and their (in)ability to claim their SRH rights. The project focuses on three groups of YFMs in Dhaka: 1) ready-made garment workers, 2) Garo beauty parlour workers, and 3) female hotel- and residence-based sex workers. It will look at how self-determination and sexual autonomy of young (unmarried) women living and working in the urban context are enhanced or obstructed through their migrant positions and income-generating activities. It approaches SRHR as grounded and contextualized in the daily lives of these women and uses an array of qualitative methods to reach its goals. The project has a highly collaborative nature between academics, local organizations and members of the research group. Research outcomes including a documentary and short informative clips will provide insights and recommendations for improving policies, programs and projects oriented to these specific groups of YFMs.

Output

Publication meant for a broad audience

  • Ms Siraj Annie(2018): Hide and seek (Lukochuri in Bengali), a documentary film

Publications for the general public

  • R. Laila(2016): powerpoint presentation kick-off workshop Amsterdam
  • E.W. Bal(2016): Programme kick-off workshop
  • R. Laila(2016): Migration, livelihoods and SRHR: A triple case-study of young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • L. Nencel(2016): Kick-off workshop Dhaka 2016
  • S. Begum(2017): PAR training, 1-5 Feb, 2017
  • R. Laila(2017): SRHR knowledge and attitude of female garment workers in Gazipur
  • E.W. Bal(2017): Paper abstracts
  • E.W. Bal, R. Laila(2017): Imagining Bangladesh
  • A. Naher(2017): workshop on ethnographic research, Dhaka, 29-30 January 2017
  • R. Laila(2017): Negotiating Respectability: Love, lust and female sexuality among garment workers in Gazipur, Bangladesh
  • E.W. Bal, R. Laila(2017): Young female migrants negotiating mobility for transitional livelihood strategy: A new perspective on labour turnover
  • R. Laila(2017): Female garment workers sexual and reproductive health and rights Legal context and reality
  • R. Laila, E.W. Bal(2017): Rethinking time and Kin practices: Patterns of im/mobility and female labour participation in the ready-made garment industry in Dhaka,
  • Hosna Shewly(2017): Invisible Mobilities
  • Hosna Shewly(2017): Migration, livelihood and SRHR: sex worker's case study
  • R. Laila(2017): Culture, gender and mobility: Patterns of im/mobility) and female labour participation in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh,
  • A. Drong(2017): internal report SRHR beauty parlour workers
  • A. Naher(2017): presentation day 2 ethnographic research
  • A. Naher(2017): Lecture notes ethnographic workshop Dhaka
  • K. Sinha-Kerkhoff(2018): Cultural Shaping of Health
  • K. Sinha-Kerkhoff(2018): Cultural shaping of health
  • Hosna Shewly(2018): Many faces of the City: Female sex worker's everyday struggles, survival and negotiation at the cityscape of Dhaka
  • N. Siraj, E.W. Bal, K. Sinha-Kerkhoff,(2018): Belongings, Longings and Conformal Boundary Extension:
  • R. Laila(2018): Comprehensive SRHR approach to young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka
  • R. Laila(2018): International Symposium on Migration, Livelihoods and SRHR of young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • R. Laila(2018): Migration, Livelihood and Gendered Violence: Triple case-study of young female migrants in Dhaka

Details

Project number

W 08.560.008

Main applicant

Dr. E.W. Bal PhD

Affiliated with

NWO-SRHR

Team members

Dr. E.W. Bal PhD, L. Bansal, S. Drong, M. Guhathakurt, H.J. Jahan, Dr. R.L. Laila, A. Naher PhD, Dr. L.S. Nencel PhD, K.R. Sinha-Kerkhoff

Duration

01/03/2016 to 01/10/2018