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22 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Fighting human trafficking

Trafficking of women and children is a social evil and collective action is probably the most effective shield against it
Md. Atikur Rahman
Fighting human trafficking

Bangladesh is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking, specifically forced labour and prostitution. A significant share of Bangladesh’s trafficking victims are men recruited for work overseas with fraudulent employment offers who are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced labour or debt bondage. Children – both boys and girls are trafficked within Bangladesh for commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour, and forced labour. Some children are sold into bondage by their parents, while others are induced into work or commercial sexual exploitation through fraud and physical coercion. Women and children from Bangladesh are also trafficked to India for commercial sexual exploitation.

Over the last two decades, violence against women and children has become one of the most visible and articulated social issues in Bangladesh.

Today, all the section of  the society are concerned about the issues and movements; agitations and legal reforms are being made against women oppression. But the rate of improvement is not noticeable or the level of exploitation is so immense that the effort to quash it is insufficient. It is resultant of a lot of reasons as negative socialisation of our women, historical system of patriarchy, economic dependence of the women, and acceptance of violence in the society and so on. Even the women themselves are also not able to realise the situation. They sometimes accept violence against them as usual.

On the other hand, security agencies have become the breeding ground of violence. Police custody is considered to be an insecure place for a victim. All these various forms of violence, mentioned above may take place in private and public arena, committed by family members or strangers. Violence committed within the family is the most serious and repugnant of all types of violence. The intimate context makes it difficult for the victim to seek redress. At the same time, the closed family structure makes it possible for the aggressor to repeat the violence. Through family violence includes child abuse, sibling abuse, parent abuse and in-law abuse perpetrated by male aggressors on female victims, available information indicate the marital violence (wife abuse) is the most serious type of family violence. Types of family violence include family quarrel, non-payment of dowry and so on.

Firstly, the problem of prostitution and trafficking of women in Bangladesh seems to have increased tremendously in the last two decades. It is extremely difficult to assess the actual number of sex workers currently in operation in Dhaka, Narayangonj and other districts in our country. Some of them are in brothels, some operates as street sex workers and some are hotel and motel escorts. Young girls from certain rural districts of Bangladesh are trafficked for marriage and then sold into prostitution.

Child prostitution is still a prominent and apparent problem in many countries; several nations have been successful in reducing the incident of this misconduct, the children who have been trapped in this mortifying means of income had a chance for a better life. However a vast number of other countries still overlook this degradation and tainting of life of the innocent. Child sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking remain largely taboo in Bangladesh society. A major underlying issue behind child sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking is that children are often unaware of their legal rights, or are made to feel they cannot exercise those rights. In general, the rights and desires of children are often overlooked, particularly for the most vulnerable groups, such as adolescent girls. Poor law enforcement compounds this. In Bangladesh, child sexual abuse has been recognised among children employed as domestic workers.

Secondly, rape is the most serious and frequently occurred form of violence against women and children. It is the direct violence of women’s right to bodily security. In our country, everyday a huge number of women and school girls are being raped and sexually harassed. Huge number of victimised women and school girls has been killed after sexual harassment and rape.

Thirdly, women are victimised in our country in various ways, sometimes women are taken outside of the country with a promise of attractive jobs but are destined to serve in brothels. Increased activities of some unscrupulous slave traders engaged in women trafficking are reflected in the police-case. Very often women and school girls in groups are held at residential hotels, borders and airports.

Many such victims are found abroad also. Indiscriminating export of the unskilled manpower by some recruiting agents without job guarantees abroad sometimes causes untold sufferings to victims and litigations among parties involved embarrass the government. Vicious racket of their so called manpower traders need immediate attention.

The Government of Bangladesh made limited efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the last year. The government’s lack of efforts to protect victims of forced labour – who constitute a large share of victims in the country – and adult male victims of trafficking is a continuing concern. While the government did not have a systematic procedure to identify and refer female and child victims of trafficking, the courts, police, or Home Ministry officials referred victims of internal trafficking to shelters.

In spite of much agitation and protests and actions by government and non-government organisation, the evil persists and is aggravating. The obvious question is what is the need of the hour to face up to the challenge? A few suggestions are made here:

There should be a national agreement against all forms of trafficking against women and children. Such a policy should be framed on the basis of general consensus among major political parties and professional and occupational groups.

Trafficking of women and children is a social evil and social action is probably the most effective shield against it. Social mobilisation must therefore be attained to curb trafficking. For this, vigorous publicity should be given through all types of media, pictures, release, demonstrations etc. Besides, anti-trafficking committees should be formed in Unions and Thana levels and also essential to develop adequate facilities.

Affected women and children’s need for shelter is urgent and they should be absorbed in the income generating projects of government and NGOs for providing skill training and rehabilitation. To make women aware of their rights and responsibilities, they should be provided with proper education. They should be made able to fight superstition and oppression. After all, an integrated program to accelerate the position of women in the society is must to combat violence and trafficking of women and children.   

The writer is Head of PR at BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology (BUFT), Email [email protected]



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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