Bangladesh may slide in US human trafficking list

Sheikh Shahariar Zaman
Published : 07:30, Jan 27, 2020 | Updated : 07:30, Jan 27, 2020

A Bangladeshi trafficking survivor holds a paper boat during an interview at a shelter in West Bengal, India, Sept 9, 2019. Thomson Reuters FoundationHuman trafficking in the country has reached an alarming state and failure to contain it, puts Bangladesh under enormous international pressure.
Bangladesh may slide further in the US report on human trafficking. As per various reports, since Bangladesh has border with India on three sides, the destinations are Indian cities and towns and the main victims are less educated women from underprivileged backgrounds. They cross the border beguiled by promises of lucrative work but soon realize that they have been duped by traffickers.
As per government accounts, women are being trafficked from 17 districts and the most are being trafficked from Jessore, Norail and Khulna. Despite the alertness of law enforcers, the government is failing to stop traffickers.
People are also trafficked to Malaysia and Indonesia. Bangladesh is often at the headlines of human trafficking related news.
The embassies abroad try to bring back the ones who face imprisonment overseas as victims of trafficking.
Several sources at the home and foreign ministry have admitted that Bangladesh has not attained the capacity to prevent human trafficking.
Home ministry sources say that in the last two years, around 10,500 women applied to come back from India and of them, the government managed to bring back only 1,744 persons.
The others could not be returned due to legal complications.
“The main victims of human trafficking are women who are taken to India under false pretexts and sold off; 90 percent of the women who wanted to come back were in Indian brothels. After rescue they are under the protection of various NGOs.
A 18-year-old girl rescued from child trafficking poses in Proshanti, a shelter run by the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association in Dhaka, June 17, 2008. The girl was trafficked by her aunt and then forced to work in a brothel in Mumbai for one and a half years. REUTERSBangladesh is at the lower end of the US Trafficking in Person, TIP, list and the reasons are: high cost of migration, inadequate cases, non-punishment of perpetrators etc.
Though the anti-trafficking law was formed in 2012, the separate tribunal could not be formed as yet. In such a situation, Bangladesh is under surveillance of the government.
Several foreign ministry officials feel that Bangladesh has to improve her image not just for better ranking in the list but to improve her own image.
As per government accounts, 644 trafficking cases were lodged in 2019 of which four cases were resolved, 11 were given life term while three persons received other punishments.
Since Bangladesh does not have a separate tribunal, the cases are resolved at the women and children repression tribunal and since there are too many cases of women and children oppression, the trafficking cases get delayed.
If Bangladesh slides in the TIP list then there adverse impact will be seen on trade, humanitarian support and other areas, said a foreign ministry official.
There is a gridlock in human trafficking cases and the government has already given permission to form human trafficking prevention tribunal at seven divisional cities.
Hopefully, the law ministry can start the tribunal at the beginning of the year, said the official.