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Assignment on “HUMAN TRAFFICKING” Perspective from Bangladesh.

Submitted to: Md. Sajjadur Rahman

Lecturer: Dept. of International Relations (IR) University of Chittagong.

Submitted by: Mohammad Khademul Islam; Class roll/ID : 08406045 BSS (hons) 2nd year, 2008-09 Session: 2007-08 Dept. of International Relations, (IR) University of Chittagong.

Dated: October 21, 2009

Introduction: Our country was become independent state after nine-month bloodshed liberation war with Pakistan (former West Pakistan) in 1971. Although we have crossed observe d 39 anniversary independent days, numerous problems of us still remain. The people of Bangladesh usually are liberal and moderate minded, but nationally their ideology, think and behave are not same. Experts said national indifference is one of most reasons for their backwardness. An example could be mentioned; after ending of British role in these sub-continent 1947 two states emerged named i.e. India and Pakistan on the basis of ‘two state nation’. Bangladesh was belong to the Pakistan for 24-year. Each ruler of Pakistan showed betray to peach lover, devoted and nationalist people. Especially army roller of Pakistan had made Bangladesh as a servant country for their won. But civilian of Bangladesh were become aggressive towards ruler. On the other hand Pakistani ruler was committed to controlling Bangladesh and its people. In this situation it was really difficult to remain under control of West Pakistan. Well, people of Bangladesh were gather for independence under leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also leader of Awami League (AL). In March 07, 1971 he delivered a historical speech in Race Course field demanding independence. After nine-month long struggle Bangladesh achieved independence from West Pakistan. Bangladesh has border are with India. It is locked by India three sides and rest side by the Bengal Ocean. Little are border with Burma dividing by Nap River. This long border have been treated a heaven for smuggling, criminal works and other illegal activities. Concept and Internalization of “Trafficking”. Once upon a time ‘border trafficking’ denotes only trafficking goods such as rice, cloth, sugar and other consumes product etc. but in course of time definition of ‘trafficking’ get differences. Now ‘border trafficking’ denote not only trafficking goods but also human being especially women and children for several purposes. It is became worldwide concern for peace loving people that how it would be stopped. Developing countries such as Bangladesh is suffering its curse. The Bangla equivalent of the word ‘trafficking’ is pachar. It has a mild connotation which means transfer from one place to another. Trafficking, which is a serious problem and is considered a violation of human rights, is yet to be internalized emotionally by society at large in Bangladesh and also in other South Asian countries.1 Several organizations from home and abroad are continuing their process to abolish and for establishing social consciousness against border trafficking. Rather than strong effort they become failure frequently. Here need to be mentioned that there are far deference among ‘trafficking, migration and smugglings’. Trafficking, smuggling and migration are separate, but inter-related issues. Migration may take place through regular or irregular channels and may be freely chosen or forced upon the migrant as a means of survival (e.g. during conflict,


an economic crisis or an environmental disaster). If the method of migration is irregular then the migrant may be assisted by a smuggler who will facilitate illegal entry into a country for a fee. The smuggler may demand an exorbitant fee and may expose the migrant to serious dangers in the course of their journey, but on arrival at their destination, the migrant is free to make their own way and normally does not see the smuggler again. Trafficking is fundamentally different as it involves the movement of people for the purposes of exploiting their labor or services. 1 The vast majority of people who are trafficked are migrant workers. 2 They are seeking to escape poverty and discrimination, improve their lives and send money back to their families. They would promise well-paying jobs abroad through family or friends or through “recruitment agencies� and other individuals who offer to find them employment and make the travel arrangements. For most trafficked people it is only once they arrive in the country of destination that their real problems begin as the work they were promised does not exist and they are forced instead to work in jobs or conditions to which they did not agree. It is no coincidence that the growth in trafficking has taken place during a period where there has been an increasing international demand for migrant workers, which has not been adequately acknowledged or facilitated. The lack of regular migration opportunities to take up work in other countries and the fact that many migrants are looking for work abroad as a means of survival, rather than an opportunity to improve their standard of living, has left migrants with little choice but to rely on smugglers or traffickers in order to access these jobs.2 The concept of trafficking is associated with the criminal manipulation of persons who want or need to migrate for a better quality of life. It exists at the intersection of organized crime and migration. The international community considers trafficking in persons a modern form of slavery or slavery-like practices and a gross violation of human rights and dignity. Trafficking is essentially a gender and age specific phenomenon which affects particularly women and children. It is a difficult task to develop a uniform and internationally agreed definition of trafficking. The term trafficking is used by different actors to describe activities that range from voluntary, facilitated migration, to the exploitation of prostitution, to the movement of persons through the threat or use of force, coercion, violence, etc. for certain exploitation purposes. “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, or deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a


minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”.3 Human trafficking in Bangladesh. Trafficking is indeed a growing problem in Bangladesh. The illegal trafficking of Bangladeshi women started for the first time when the large scale migration of both male and female laborers to the Middle Easterner countries commenced in 1976. The trafficking strangely and instinctively exaggerated in early 1982, when the Bangladeshi government in response to the problems generally faced by maids employed there, passed protective legislation to dissuade the migration of women workers to the Middle East. Many women who legally entered Middle Eastern countries prior to 1982 disparaged lopsided norms of behavior and inequitable life styles, including substandard food and living arrangement. Other complaints of illtreatment and offensive behavior included overburden, whipping, dishonor, insufficient food, sexual persecution and rape.4 In some cases, women were singled out for prostitution and had simply been handed over to brothels by pimps posing as recruiting agents. Women who have been sold or have gone to the Middle East as maids are mostly young—between twelve and twenty five—and from very poor families. The internal sex markets of the receiving country, whose brothels cater to local men, absorb most of the women. A small number are resold to the Western European sex market5. All of these practices are gross violations of a number of articles of the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of Their Families. Estimates of the number of women and children involved in trafficking in Bangladesh are not easily available. It is very difficult to get reliable and authentic information on both internal and cross border trafficking of women and children. In the circumstances, anecdotal evidence and estimates based on media coverage about trafficked women or about agents of traffickers and reports by Government Organizations (GOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are the main sources of data on trafficking in Bangladesh. However, these reports are not enough to estimate the magnitude of trafficking in women and children from Bangladesh. Available data suggests that about 2million women and children have been trafficked to the Middle East in the last two decades and about 2 million women have been trafficked to Pakistan over the last ten years.6 Moreover, 4,700 children have been trafficked in the year of 1993-98 and 3,500 girls have been trafficked out of Cox’s Bazar2 during 1988-1998. It is important to state here that the actual figure is far higher than the estimates.7 Although vast majority of women are sold to the Middle Eastern market about 40,000 Bangladeshi women and girls are engaged in prostitution in Pakistan alone. Not all of the trafficked Bangladeshi women reach Pakistan; some remain in India.8 According


to a report of the Center for Women and Children Studies, about 14,000 Bangladeshi prostitutes work in the brothels of Calcutta.9. Moreover, about 15,000 Bangladeshis are enticed yearly out of the country by traffickers, and thousands more leave voluntarily in an attempt to escape abject poverty.10 Trafficked may be sold like goods. At times they present in auction. Now a question may be raised where trafficked women are sold and in what price? Paul and Hasnath (2000) in their study have revealed that New Delhi and Karachi have become major South Asian centers for the international buying and selling of trafficked women as slaves, maids, wives or prostitutes. Those who can not be sold to individual buyers at a premium price are usually sold in a lot to the brothels. In Pakistan the price per women varies between USD 50 and 2,000, depending on beauty and age.11. Usually auctions are held in the dead of night. In the following paragraph, we would present the story of an auction in Karachi that was experienced by a Bangladeshi journalist: “At night, girls were being brought to the slum and (the auction) took place indoors. There was no bidding as such because there was always an understanding between the procurers and the customers before auction. Usually the younger and more beautiful girls were sold quickly and at higher prices. The unmarried and virgin girls were sold for 15,000-2,000 taka (USD 450 to 600). Also a group of 10-20 girls was sold together for 50,000 to 200,000 taka (USD 1,500 to 6,000) to brothel owners and pimps. Some girls were kept aside before the auction to be taken separately to hotels for wealthy buyers who were given the opportunity to inspect the girls individually. Men from villages also came to seek wives… A Punjabi man gave 10,000 taka (USD 300) for an ordinary Bangladeshi girl. The auction ended. Those who were sold went with the buyers. The rest returned to the place they came from. Everyone remained silent. It seemed that the girls were homeless, stateless, helpless and speechless”.12 Easily traversable boarder with India which extends over 4,222 km is one of the contributing factors for trafficking in women and children not only as the site of destination but also as the transit country. Consequently, about 200 to 400 hundred young women and children are being victim of trafficking every month in Bangladesh. Many GOs and NGOs are working in collaboration with International NonGovernmental Organizations (INGOs) and United Nations (UN) in the areas of prevention, rescue, rehabilitation as well as reintegration of the trafficked women and children. The review of NGO programs in Bangladesh revealed the importance of counseling both girls and their parents and as the same time it needs to provide professionally qualified psychological services. Unfortunately, the creation of shelters safe areas are found, in some instance, to isolate the trafficked persons and contribute to stigmatization.13 According to the 2002 SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children, “Trafficking is the illegal moving and selling of human beings across and within countries and continents in exchange for monetary and/or other compensation.” While the Convention focuses on trafficking for sex work, there are many other reasons for


human trafficking in South Asia: forced marriage, forced labor, domestic service, organized begging, camel jockeying, circus work, illicit adoption, pornography production and organ trafficking for the transplant market. As noted, most of those trafficked are women and girls, but boys are also trafficked, in particular as camel jockeys or forced labor, for adoption and in some areas as sex workers.14 Bangladesh has a narrow window of opportunity in which to act decisively to prevent the spread of HIV among vulnerable groups. The country’s sixth round of sentinel surveillance (2004-2005) showed an overall HIV prevalence of 0.6 percent. The surveillance was carried out among five groups: injecting drug users, female sex workers (FSWs), men who have sex with men (MSMs), male sex workers (MSWs) and bridge population groups (mobile men including rickshaw drivers, truckers and dock workers). Significant underreporting of cases occurs due to the country’s limited voluntary testing and counseling capacity and the social stigma attached to HIV and AIDS.16 Despite the low national HIV prevalence, behaviors such as injecting drug use, unprotected sex with an overlap between vulnerable and bridging populations, and high rates of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) all increase the country’s vulnerability. Thus, Bangladesh is beginning to witness a spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic against a backdrop of extreme poverty and low socio-economic and human development indicators. A large number of women from Bangladesh are forced to enter the sex industry in India, particularly in Mumbai and Kolkata, as a consequence of trafficking. These women are extremely vulnerable to HIV. Report also said, Bangladeshi women and girls are also trafficked to Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) for purposes of sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude and debt bondage. Internal trafficking in Bangladesh is also rampant, as women and children – both girls and boys from rural areas – are trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour.17 Prompt and vigorous action is needed to strengthen the quality and coverage of HIV and human trafficking prevention programmers. Here need to be mentioned that now-a-days child trafficking has also grown up in the last decades. The patterns of child trafficking seen over the past two decades and the ways children are exploited today differ from the past in important ways. Firstly, the world’s transport infrastructure has improved, with children as well as adults being moved long distances easily by air. Adults pretending to be their parents take children by air to the country where there is a demand for children; for example, boys aged between five and nine are flown from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sudan to airports in the Gulf, passed off as other people’s children, and then handed over to be trained as jockeys for camel races.18 Secondly, various factors have increased the demand for children for sexual exploitation, both as young prostitutes and, even younger, for secret exploitation by pedophiles.19 The ease with which the citizens of wealthy countries can travel means 6

that sex tourists fly to other continents to buy sex. However, they account for a relatively small proportion of the men who look for child partners when paying for sex. Along with the long-standing male interest in some cultures with ‘deflowering a virgin’, since the 1980s fear of HIV/AIDS has resulted in men in different continents preferring to pay for commercial sex with girls aged 15 or younger on the assumption that they are less likely to have caught HIV/AIDS than older women. In some cultures there is even a mistaken belief that sex with a virgin will somehow cure HIV/AIDS. Thirdly, computer technology and the Internet have revolutionized access to information. This allows would-be holiday-makers to view potential resorts; it also helps sex tourists choose the destination they prefer for purchasing sex with local people, including girls and boys. The Internet has precipitated a boom in pornography, including child pornography, and has encouraged a phenomenon that was already, in pre-Internet days, referred to as ‘mail order brides’. It has helped break down the barriers between nations, but in so doing it has facilitated exploitation and trafficking. Fourthly, demand for ever cheaper products on the global market fuels a downward spiral in wages, sucking in child workers not only because they are cheap, but also because they are obedient. Children trafficked away from home often represent the cheapest and most malleable work force available.20 In addition to these new factors, the very meaning of the term ‘child trafficking’ has recently been redefined by the United Nations, with the result that cases which were known to be exploitative but not previously regarded as trafficking are now being relabeled, fuelling concern that the number of children being trafficked is growing exponentially. Whatever the rate of growth, the situation around the world is extremely serious. It is aggravated by a completely inadequate level of response by law enforcement agencies to the exploitation of children in their countries (both those who have been trafficked and others) and also the absence of any meaningful policing at international level. Trafficking Routes: Bangladesh has a 4,222-km long border with India and a 288-km common border with Myanmar. Twenty-eight of the 64 districts of Bangladesh have common borders with India, and two have borders with Myanmar. Monitoring and policing any unlawful activities are it trafficking of humans or smuggling is a gigantic task, and the traffickers take advantage of this situation. The most preferred route, used by them, is the land route followed by air and waterways. There are as many as 18 transit points along the India-Bangladesh border through which children and women are smuggled out of the country. The border areas of Khulna, Jessore, Satkhira, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Mymensingh, Comilla, Brahmanbaria, and Sylhet are frequently used as land routes for trafficking. In the northern region, the districts of Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Naogaon, Chapai Nawabganj, and Rajshahi, and in the south, 7

Jessore and Satkhira are the areas where women and children are most susceptible to trafficking. Cox’s Bazaar is also a common site for recruiting children and women to be trafficked, because there are three Muslim Rohinga refugee camps in this district from where the traffickers collect victims. Although reports and studies identified these border routes, the traffickers use different routes at different times to avoid the police and other law enforcing agencies. Therefore, for entering India through Kolkata, the two most common routes are the Benapol border in Jessore from where almost 50% of the trafficking takes place and Satkhira. In Rajshahi, the Ganges-Padma river is easily crossed during the winter when water levels are low. In Nawabganj and Rajshahi, the most frequently-used points for crossing the border illegally are Nawabganj, Shibgonj, Bholahat, Godagari, and Rajshahi. In the north, Dinajpur is considered the district through which most women and children are trafficked. This region is connected to what is now West Bengal by both road and rail link. Rail links connect a number of other districts.21 Throughout the northwestern Bangladesh (Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Nilphamari, Thakurgoan, and Panchagarh). The Parbatipur Railway Station in Dinajpur brings people from all over the north. Other points through which people regularly cross the border illegally from Dinajpur and Naogoan include Hili, Nitpur, Aihi, Ciroti, Hutshaul, Nirmail, and Agradigon. The most commonly-used border points for crossing in the north are Hili, Singimari, Mogolhat, Burimari, Durgapur, Villabari, Ramkhana, Vurungamari and Batrigach. An estimated 200,000 Bangladeshi women have been trafficked to Pa k i s tan over the last 10 years, the majority are whom are young women.23

Internal and cross border routes


Sadarghat of Dhaka and Narayanganj to Barisal, Patuakhali by launch, then to Satkhira or Jessore border through land routes. Gabtoli bus terminal of Dhaka by road, from there by bus to Satkhira, Jessore, Kaliganj of Jhenaidah, Darshana, Meherpur, Pragpur of Kushtia, Rajshahi, or Dinajpur. From Saidabad to Khulna through Maoa road and Moilapota Bus terminal, to Satkhira or Jessore. Launch from Mongla to Khulna, Vandaria to Khulna, Takerhat to Khulna, Khepupara to Khulna, then by bus to Satkhira or Jessore. From Chittagong and Chandpur by train to Akhaura border areas. From Gabtoli Bus Terminal of Dhaka to Doulatdia Rail Station by bus via Aricha Ghat, from there by train to Poradah, then to Darshana border. From Poradah to Rajshahi by train and then by bus to Charghat, Bagha, Godagari or the border of Chapai Nawabganj district. From Poradah and Shantahar railway junction to Kurigram and Lalmonirhat.


From Poradah to the border areas of Joypurhat, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, and Nilphamari. From Sylhet to Dawkibazar via Tamabil, then across the border to Shilong. From Sylhet to Jokiganj, then to Manikpur, Chabria, or Loharmol, across the border and through India via Karimganj, Shilchar, or Goahati. From Moulvibazar to the border at Dharmanagar, through Kulaura and Fultala, then to India. From Moulvibazar to the border at Kailashahar via Kulaura and Chatla. Thakurgaon, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Nilfamari, Panchaghar via rail to Parbatipur Rail Station in Dinajpur, to Hili and across the border to either Raiganj or Balurghat in India on the highway leading south to Kolkata. Causes of human trafficking in Bangladesh. Children and women being trafficked from Bangladesh into India and other countries. The causes of trafficking and the factors leading to this apparent increase in recent years are multiple and complicated. These factors are embedded within the socioeconomic structure of the country and require an in-depth analysis. However, for the present purpose, the factors have been categorized into two groups. The first group, the ‘push’ factors, includes the conditions which are responsible for trafficking of people from one country to another country. These factors have been outlined in the previous discussion about Bangladesh and its regional context (Section 4) and will be expanded further below. The second group refers to the set of ‘pull’ factors that support the demand for trafficked victims.25 Causes of trafficking at a glance26

Break-up of traditional joint family and the emerging nuclear families Pseudo-marriage Dowry demand Unequal power relations and discrimination in the family by gender and age Negligible decision-making status of women in financial matters Negative attitude toward women and female children Socialization which devalues female children Social stigma against single, unwed, or widowed women Misinterpretation of religion regarding women Religious fundamentalism Complications out of conditionality and fraudulent practices in marriages/after marriages Child marriage, polygamy, or incompatible marriages Easy divorce Incest Physical and mental illness, and contagious diseases turning women as outcastes Frustration in love and failure in conjugal life Enticements for better life, e.g. job and prospect of marriage Globalization and export-oriented growth model and consumerism


Increased dependency of guardians on the income of their female children Natural disasters making families homeless and disintegrated Acute poverty forcing parents to abandon their children Lack of shelter for women in distress Inadequate government policies in favor of women Inadequate rural development projects for women and unemployed Lack of social security and safety Inefficiency of the law-enforcing agency Corruption amongst the members of law-enforcing agencies Women released from jail/hazat are given to guardians/custodians without proper/legal verification The malpractice of providing affidavit for women entering into the profession of prostitution without verification of age Complications of restoring to law are both expensive and time-consuming for women victims Non-registration of female domestic helps. National response to human trafficking27 ■ ■ ■

In its efforts to combat human trafficking, the Government of Bangladesh has established an inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee to oversee national efforts to combat human trafficking. A national anti-trafficking police monitoring unit has been created, with presence in all 64 districts. An increased number of prosecutions have taken place in trafficking and trafficking-related corruption cases. The Government of Bangladesh has launched a multi-faceted anti-trafficking public awareness campaign and increased its cooperation with NGOs involved in the fight against human trafficking. The Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs has initiated a campaign of ‘road marches’ to raise awareness of the dangers of human trafficking. The government relies primarily on NGOs for shelter, medical care, counseling, repatriation and reintegration services. However, it also runs safe houses, which provide shelter to the survivors of trafficking. Various NGOs provide training to government officials on victim assistance and protection techniques for the survivors of trafficking. Many civil society organizations are involved in the rescue and recovery, repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors throughout the country.

A case study from Bangladesh: Munni and Panna are not uncommon names in Sonagachi and Kalighat – Calcutta’s brothel areas. Sometimes Munni and Panna take on different, Hindu names. Either way, it’s difficult to ascertain whether Munni and Panna are internal migrants from West Bengal or cross-border Bangladeshi migrants. If the latter, they remain unidentified by the Indian state by assimilating within the larger population of sex workers in Calcutta.


They presently live in ghettos – a marked departure from their previous mobility. Their entry across an international border into brothels escapes the gaze of the state, which supposedly monitors and controls both movement and prostitution. Though these women are able to mask their nationality and indeed do so, like all migrants they retain ties of belonging with the ‘home’ left behind. Their trans-nationality poses new questions for understanding women’s migration and re-settlement and exposes contradictions within NGO discourses on anti-trafficking measures vis-à-vis commercial sex work. From sex slaves to sex workers

Munni and Panna (fictitious names) are often represented as ‘victims’ of sex trafficking – words hurled at international policy forums to convey the deepest form of exploitation. They dwell as alarmist statistics, laced with global concerns on criminal practices that seemingly accompany migrating women. Individual experiences surface in sensitively documented NGO interventions. Typically, women are enticed with false promises of domesticity or better work prospects in a big city. Instead, they change hands several times across the border and beyond, experiencing humiliation and torture before landing in a Calcutta brothel. Upon arrival, they compete for space and clients amongst a multi-ethnic and sometimes underage group. Their first years are spent in bondage with brothel keepers who take the lion’s share of their earnings; later they work independently. They negotiate daily with pimps and police and in more recent years with HIV/AIDS interventionists – mainly public health officials and social workers. Pimps, police, social workers and politicians seek them out as stakeholders and trump cards to generate revenue, claim health targets and distribute voter cards. The demand for the legal recognition of sex work has since 1995 been spearheaded by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a platform for sex workers who want prostitution recognised as an occupation, to free it from its underpaid, highly exploitative status. The Durbar and other NGOs’ attempts to unionise and confederate the women have improved Munni and Panna’s position.3 The geographic, cultural and linguistic proximity between Bangladesh and West Bengal helps Munni and Panna to pass as natives of either; they can thus conceal their cross-border identities and march ahead undaunted by their status as illegal migrants. With a banner in one hand and a charter of demands in the other, they do not shun public scrutiny but join the voices demanding workers’ rights, addressing media and political forums and seeking a better world for their children, most of whom are enrolled in government and NGOrun city schools. They revel in an almost festival-like celebration of their new identity: erecting stalls at public exhibitions, selling placards on safe sex and displaying their culinary skills. Like others in the brothel areas of Calcutta, they no longer inhabit the world of the forbidden, hidden from public consciousness. By claiming a larger space through much publicized events in and around the city, Munni and Panna cling to the affirmation of NGO support that accords them entitlement to certain rights.


NGO interventions have transformed the ‘victim’ of human trafficking from a disempowered woman shrouded from public view into a ‘sex worker’ who transgresses social boundaries in order to attain a legitimate place in society. Anti-trafficking activities: Most NGOs which work on anti-trafficking-prevention activities have awarenessraising activities. The important NGOs working in these fields are BNWLA, CWCS, Resource Bangladesh, and Theatre Centre for Social Development (TCSD), BITA, UDDIPAN, PROSHIKA, and UBINIG. The CWCS is involved in advocacy and awareness-raising to combat trafficking of women and children at the local, national, regional and international levels. In recent years, campaigns and advocacy programmes with local government agencies, NGOs, community leaders, police, journalists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, parents, guardians, adolescents, and children and particularly with community people at the grassroots level were undertaken. The CWCS also acts as a pressure group to lobby with the policy-planners and decisionmakers. It organized awareness-raising workshop and dialogues and also police training. PROSHIKA, one of the largest national NGOs in Bangladesh, purports that the root cause of trafficking is poverty and patriarchal ideology. According to them, patriarchal ideology has constructed the mindset of the people in such a way that women are treated as a ‘commodity’ who can be sold and bought. PROSHIKA believes that, in general, people are not aware of trafficking and even the issues relating to trafficking of women and children have not been seriously considered at the individual and organizational levels. Due to lack of this seriousness, the problem did not get priority. PROSHIKA does not have a separate programme on combating trafficking. They treat this as a part of their activities against women’s oppression. The main thrust of PROSHIKA's approach is to treat trafficking as part of the problem of women’s oppression and to mitigate it through training, conscientization, and advocacy. One recent example of this approach was organizing a samabesh (gathering) of people, mostly women, near the Hili Checkpost in Dinajpur and the group of people from the other side of the border. The purpose of this samabesh was to create awareness among people of the border area for resisting trafficking. As part of the advocacy programme of CWCS, a series of Awareness-raising Workshops and Dialogues were organized in collaboration with the TWB member organizations. With the collaboration of TWB organizations, the CWCS has organized 15 upazila-level two-day campaign workshops in traffic-prone areas of the country. The first day of the campaign workshop at the community level started with introducing CWCS and TWB followed by experience-sharing by the participants as individual and representatives of organizations on the issues of trafficking of women and children.


The Awareness-raising Campaign Workshops aimed at bringing together relevant persons working at the upazila administrative units, professionals, and NGOs who are committed to combat trafficking in their respective areas. At the national level, the CWCS organized a one-day dialogue with journalists on “Combating Trafficking in Women and Children: Role of Media in Creating Awareness�, and another two-day dialogue with the police officials was organized at Jessore and Khustia. Example of awareness-raising at Hili Samabesh

The territorial division has not made the condition of the poor people of one country better than those on the other side of the barbed wire fence. They are equally backward. This is truer of women. Everyday thousands of women are being oppressed and humiliated on both sides of the border. Poor women from Bangladesh are crossing the border posing as wives of other people, sometimes looking for jobs, and sometimes even trying to sell their bodies. It is now being increasingly felt that the Hili border should no more is used as a centre for trafficking of women. To stop Hili being used as a springboard for this dirty trade, a samabesh of men and women from both the sides of the border was organized on 8 March 2000 by a PROSHIKA-facilitated network called Network against Oppression of Women (NAOW). There were speeches and slogans calling for united efforts to stop trafficking. At one stage, members of the border security force allowed a group of 20 women to cross the border from the Bangladeshi side and join their friends on the other side of the border. They together sang against all the warmongers and promised to unite. All those present pledged to stop trafficking.28 From home and abroad both government and NGOs have been working in combating trafficking in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has ratified many international laws and conventions. For example, Bangladesh has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women with Reservations of Article 2, 13(a), 16.1, and 16.1 (9c) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It has also played an effective role at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and endorsed the Plan of Action. In addition, in recent years, the government has promulgated a number of laws, and has approved various policies and regulations to ensure equal rights of women in all spheres of life and also to eliminate violence against women. According to Article 34.1 of the Constitution of Bangladesh, "All forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense punishable in accordance with law." Other available statutes with direct implication to trafficking in women and children are: (1) The Penal Code 1860, (2) The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act 1933, (3) The Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1933, (4) The Children Act, 1974, (5) The Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance, 1983, (6) The Women and Children Repression (Special Provision) Act, 1995 (Resistance Against Trafficking in Women and Children in South Asia, 1997), and (7) Women and Children


Repression Prevention Act, 2000. Nevertheless, it is also widely acknowledged that no 5 sufficient steps have been taken to implement these laws effectively to protect women and children from trafficking. Therefore, it is important for the policy-makers to distinguish between eliminating violence against women and also combating trafficking women and children. Currently, the government has undertaken a project, “Child Development: Coordinated Programme to Combat Child Trafficking,” The programme will start as a pilot project in 12-15 high-risk areas for trafficking. The project will establish a system of multi-sectoral task forces at the national, district and Upazila levels to conduct motivational programmers and support the efforts of organizations working in the area of prevention, rescue, repatriation, and rehabilitation of trafficking victims.29 Consequences of Trafficking: Trafficking is a violation of human rights, and has various consequences at the individual, family, community and country levels. Trafficked migrant children are among the most severely-affected victims of exploitative child labour. Living in a foreign country with foreign customs and a language they do not speak, they are easily deceived and forced to work as bonded labourers, often treated like slaves. These victims are deprived of education, are stigmatized, and are alienated from their communities of origin. In their isolation, they do not know where to go for comfort or assistance due to inaccessibility of the existing services to them. Since they are illegal migrants, some experience racism from police, authorities, and the communities where they stay. Health: Physical and Psychosocial30 “The body mends soon enough. Only the scars remain...But the wounds inflicted upon the soul take much longer to heal than wounds to the body.” Victims of trafficking work under conditions which are hazardous to their mental and physical health. Nevertheless, there were no specific reports on the health consequences of trafficking, although a number of problems have been quoted repeatedly. Perhaps, because of the link between trafficking and the sex industry, the singular most frequently reported health consequence is the role of trafficking in HIV epidemics. “Recently, however, growing concern about violence against women worldwide has put trafficking on the international agenda, and its connection with the sex industry that is such a driving force of HIV epidemics has added urgency to global anti-trafficking efforts, particularly in Asia. The trafficking of young women into prostitution has a formidable impact on HIV transmission. Studies have shown that brothel sex workers are most likely to become infected during the first six months of work, when they probably have the least bargaining power and, therefore, have more customers and fewer customers who use condoms. Another study reported that about 80% of the street child prostitutes were suffering from problems relating to reproductive organs, such as vaginal oozing, vaginal itching, and purulent discharge from vagina. Such symptoms are highly suggestive of having reproductive tract infection by the street child prostitutes.


Children and women trafficked for purposes other than commercial sex, for instance, domestic and industrial work may also have an increased risk of HIV infection because of their exposure to instances of forced sex and perhaps also the potential initiation into substance misuse, including contact with intravenous drug users. However, a search for printed documents and Internet references on this issue was unsuccessful. The health consequences of trafficking may also be more serious for young women than for men. Young women are at a greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS than young men for physiological and social reasons, which include gender discrimination, lack of formal education, poor negotiation skills, and economic dependency. Female sex workers usually get involved in this business before they are physically mature. This early sexual initiation, coupled with malnourishment and poor health, has a direct impact on reproductive health, including adolescent pregnancy, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, a higher risk of neonatal and maternal mortality. A study, done by the Population Council, found that sexually-abused children were at a higher risk of early initiation of sexual encounter, multiple partners, unprotected sex, substance abuse, depression, and low self-esteem. The study done on street child prostitutes in Dhaka city, found that more than 20% of the street child prostitutes died before/just reaching adulthood. The study also reported that about 22% of them became physically invalid and fitted only as beggar. Despite vulnerability to diseases, medical services to sex workers in particular and trafficked people in general are poor. There are obvious psychosocial dimensions to the health consequences of trafficking. Children, who are employed in child labour, are deprived of the joys of childhood and usually are low paid. Sex work is part of a vicious circle of exploitation and harassment by clients, managers and, at times, law-enforcing personnel themselves. Sex workers experience prejudice from their family and community. Exploitation, extortion, negative self-perception, and societal condemnation ultimately disable many sex workers and lead them to drug abuse, thereby reducing their chance of adopting other roles in society. Trafficking may be associated with psychosocial consequences that are commonly linked to victims of violence. Results of research suggest that victims of violence often suffer from depression, anxiety, psychosomatic symptoms, compulsive and obsessive disorders, lowesteem, eating problems, sexual dysfunction, and posttraumatic stress disorders. Conclusion: There is a need to look beyond present interventions that seek only to create greater awareness regarding HIV/AIDS or trafficking and to provide care and support services to communities such as sex workers or migrants. The need is for integrated, coordinated efforts to address human trafficking and HIV/AIDS and to reduce the underlying social, economic and gender inequalities and violence.


In recent years, the volume of trafficking of women and children as a problem has acquired global dimensions. For South Asian countries, the issue is already considered a serious regional problem that demands a concerted response. Accordingly, trafficking was high on the agenda of the Ninth Summit of SAARC heads of governments held in the Maldives in 1997. The trafficking issue is closely linked with the human rights issue with important ramifications in the area of health, lawenforcing, and socioeconomic development in general. Poverty, attitudes toward women and deeply-entrenched gender discrimination, unemployment, cultural norms about marriage, well-organized national and international networks of traffickers, and weak law-enforcing agencies are few critical factors relating to trafficking of women and children in Bangladesh. This criminal activity cannot be addressed through tougher laws alone. Several legislations, including the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, 2000, already provide penalties for violence against women and children, including trafficking and kidnapping. Yet, implementation of these legislations remains a formidable challenge. This review found that many research reports are based on information gathered through anecdotes from secondary analysis and unreliable data. The review also quoted extensively from a few good reports that collected field information and described the trafficking practices and mapped out the trafficking routes. Although more studies need to be conducted to shed light on trafficking antecedents, there are already several reports documenting the trafficking issues in Bangladesh. There is a need for studies that can generate first-hand information on social, economic, political and health implications of the problem. It is critical also to identify the current and potential roles of the government and NGOs and also in what ways civil society contributes to this immoral practice. Recommendations from these reports often fall within the categories listed below.31


Information have taken from; 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11.

12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.


Trafficking of Women and Children in Bangladesh An Overview.ICDDR,B: Centre for Health and Population Research Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh 2001 ICDDR,B Special Publication No. 111, Mike Kaye, The migration-trafficking the combating trafficking through the protection of migrants’ November 2003, UK, published and Copyright © Anti-Slavery International 2003. The United Nations Protocol on Trafficking in Persons, adopted in November 2000, Hossain, 1993; Paul and Hasnath, 2000. Paul and Hasnath, 2000. MWCA, 1997. Profulla C. Sarker and Pranab Kumar Panday, Trafficking in Women and Children in Bangladesh: A National Issue in Global Perspective, BNU-HKBU United International College, Zhuhai, China /The City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China, published in Asian Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 2/2: 1-13 Lin and Paul, 1995 NFB, 1998. Ahmed and Sarker, 1997. Profulla C. Sarker and Pranab Kumar Panday, Trafficking in Women and Children in Bangladesh: A National Issue in Global Perspective, BNU-HKBU United International College, Zhuhai, China /The City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China, published in Asian Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 2/2: 1-13 Ali, 1993: 12. Asian Journal of Social Policy, 2005, Vol. 2/2. HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND HIV, Exploring vulnerabilities and responses in South Asia, page , 12. Published by UNDP Regional HIV and Development Programme for Asia Pacific, 2007 Ibid, page, 23. Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. 2006: UNAIDS 'Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000', Trafficking in Persons Report. 2005: USAID Mike Dottridge, Foreword by Graça Machel. Kids as Commodities? Child trafficking and what to do about it? Page, 18


Il traffico internazionale di minori. Piccoli schiavi senza frontiere. Il caso dell’Albania e della Romania. Francesco Carchedi. Terre des Hommes Italy with the Lelio Basso International Foundation, PARSEC and Save the Children (Italy). Rome, December 2002.


Mike Dottridge, Foreword by Graça Machel. Kids as Commodities? Child trafficking and what to do

21. 22. 23.

24. 25.

26. 27. 28. 29.

30. 31.

about it? Page, 18 Courtesy: Mr. Fakrul Alam, ICDDR,B Ibid Trafficking and Girls, Prepared by ACPD In consultation with CEDPA, CFFC, CRLP, FCI, Ipas, IPPF, IWHC, Latin American & Caribbean Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, NAPY, and Youth Coalition for ICPD Ali S. Survey in the area of child and women trafficking. Dhaka: BNWLA, 1997 (2). Trafficking of Women and Children in Bangladesh An Overview.ICDDR,B, page, 28, Centre for Health and Population Research Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh 2001 ICDDR,B Special Publication No. 111, Proceedings of the Consultation Meeting on Trafficking and Prostitution. CWCS,1997 (20). HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND HIV, Exploring vulnerabilities and responses in South Asia, page , 23,24. Published by UNDP Regional HIV and Development Programme for Asia Pacific, 2007 Report made by a leading NGO, Prosika, Bangladesh. Trafficking of Women and Children in Bangladesh An Overview.ICDDR,B: page-12, Centre for Health and Population Research Mohakhali, Dhaka 1212, Bangladesh 2001 ICDDR,B Special Publication No. 111, Ibid, page, 48 Ibid, page, 64



HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Perspective from Bangladesh  

Once upon a time ‘border trafficking’ denotes only trafficking goods such as rice, cloth, sugar and other consumes product etc. but in cours...