Sunday, June 16, 2024

Human traffickers active in 20 transit points

Teenage girls, widows, maidservants, abandoned women and children, slum dwellers and female garment workers are the main targets of agents, who are active in country’s at least 20 transit points of human trafficking. Although the latest issue of the monthly publication, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies, cannot put a figure on human trafficking in the country, it, nevertheless, quotes statistics of some international organisations to say that at least two lakh Bangladeshi women and children have been smuggled out of the country in the last 10 years.
It has reported that at least 20,000 Bangladeshi women and children are trafficked to India, Pakistan and the Middle East every year. It has also mentioned that the actual figure may be higher than dished out by the government as many cases go unreported.
Poor implementation of existing rules, poverty and natural disasters are among the causes that turn hundreds of innocent women and girls victims of human trafficking, executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA), Salma Ali, said.
The association works closely on the issue of trafficking and rescues victims.
According to the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (Bangladesh) of United States Department of States, the Bangladesh government, last year, obtained the convictions of 42 sex trafficking offenders and sentenced 24 of them to life imprisonment under the Repression of Women and Children Act and 18 were sentenced to lesser prison terms.
It also said that this is an increase from the 32 convictions obtained in 2009, with 24 offenders sentenced to life imprisonment. The government prosecuted 80 cases involving suspected trafficking offenders and conducted 101 investigations, compared with 68 prosecutions and 26 investigations during the previous year.
The US report termed Bangladesh “a source and transit country” for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. A significant share of Bangladesh’s trafficking victims consists of men recruited for work overseas with fraudulent employment offers, who are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced labour or debt bondage.
Bangladeshi children and adults also are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced and bonded labour, the report pointed out.
Many Rohingya refugees from Burma transit through Bangladesh using unofficial methods, which makes them vulnerable to traffickers inside Bangladesh and in destination countries. In 2010, some Rohingya girls were forced into prostitution.
Bangladeshi men and women migrate willingly to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, the Maldives, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, Libya, Europe, and other countries for work, often under legal and contractual terms, the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report (Bangladesh) said. Women typically work as domestic servants; some find themselves in situations of forced labour or debt bondage where they face restrictions on their movements, non-payment of wages, threats and physical or sexual abuse.
Some Bangladeshi women working abroad were subsequently forced into prostitution.
Bangladesh does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a third consecutive year.
The US report recommends the Bangladesh government to enact the draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that criminalizes the forced labour of men in order to integrate anti-labour trafficking objectives into national anti-trafficking policies and programmes.
Sources in the ministry of home affairs said that to combat trafficking in persons, the government had taken the initiative to finalize the Human Trafficking (Prevention and Protection) Act.
According to the draft anti-trafficking law, human trafficking and relevant crimes will be considered non-bailable and non-compoundable offences and tried in speedy trial tribunals to be set up in all districts and metropolitan cities for the purpose.
Those convicted of the crimes would be punished with a minimum of eight years of rigorous imprisonment plus fines and a maximum punishment of life sentence.
During the period 1990-2010, most of the cases of women trafficking occurred in Dhaka, Jessore, Bagerhat, Chapai Nawabganj, Rangpur, Barishal, Chittagong, Commilla and Dinajpur. Reports of children trafficking mostly originated from Dhaka, which has three million slum dwellers.

 

Courtesy of The Independent

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