Daily Star Home  

<%-- Page Title--%> Law News <%-- End Page Title--%>

  <%-- Page Title--%> Issue No 145 <%-- End Page Title--%>  

June 20, 2004

  <%-- Page Title--%> <%-- Navigation Bar--%>
<%-- Navigation Bar--%>

The fourth annual trafficking in persons report, June, 2004

Bangladesh is a country of origin and transit for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude, and debt bondage. An estimated 10-20,000 women and girls are trafficked annually to India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). A small number of women and girls are trafficked through Bangladesh from Burma to India. Bangladeshi boys are also trafficked into the U.A.E. and Qatar and forced to work as camel jockeys and beggars. Women and children from rural areas in Bangladesh are trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work.

The Government of Bangladesh does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Bangladesh has moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 because it failed to make significant efforts to prosecute traffickers and address the complicity of government officials in trafficking. Overall, the government's anti-trafficking efforts stagnated although there was progress in the area of building public awareness and prevention. Public corruption is rampant, although the government did pass legislation in February 2004 to create an Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate and prosecute cases of all types of corruption. Police officials are known to facilitate trafficking of women and children, though none has ever been charged or arrested. Bangladesh should take greater steps to address government corruption and prosecute officials who are involved in trafficking. The Bangladeshi Government works in close cooperation with the various NGOs fighting trafficking.

Although the government faces significant resource constraints, it receives considerable international assistance, some of which could be used to attack corruption in the police and judiciary, and some of which is already being used to provide social services for trafficking victims. The government has failed to make a priority of protecting trafficking victims or prosecuting their exploiters.

The government's efforts led to 72 arrests of suspected traffickers in 2003an increase from 60 arrests made the previous yearalthough convictions declined from 30 in 2002 to 17 in 2003. The police should take far greater initiative in pursuing trafficking investigations and follow through on a previous commitment to create a specialized anti-trafficking unit. No public officials were prosecuted for trafficking crimes during the reporting period. The August 2003 creation of a "Speedy Trial" anti-trafficking court, which could handle trafficking prosecutions, was a notable achievement, though it has not yet produced a trafficking conviction. The government does not adequately monitor its borders; corruption among border guards is a major obstacle to anti-trafficking progress.

The government does not offer shelter to trafficking victims, but refers victims to NGOs such as the Bangladeshi Women Lawyers Association for shelter, medical care, and counseling. The government does not provide witness protection in trafficking prosecutions. Bangladesh provided no training to its overseas diplomats on detecting and caring for victims of trafficking in key destination countries.

During the reporting period, the government showed continued, modest efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWCA) in early 2004 led an inter-ministerial effort to raise awareness on trafficking and other forms of violence against women. In 2003, MOWCA established "one-stop" crisis centers in two hospitals for female victims of violence, including trafficking victims, and led month-long "Road Marches" in 2003 and 2004, covering 38 of 64 districts to highlight trafficking problems. In an effort to prevent trafficking, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment issued new regulations in December 2003 governing the recruitment of Bangladeshi women for work as domestic servants in Saudi Arabia.

Source: US Department of State.


      (C) Copyright The Daily Star. The Daily Star Internet Edition, is joiblished by the Daily Star