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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 226
July 09, 2011

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Bangladesh still in Tier-2 Watch List
Trafficking in persons report-2011

Bangladesh is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor 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 labor or debt bondage. Bangladeshi children and adults also are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced and bonded labor. Some children are sold into bondage by their parents, while others are induced into labor or commercial sexual exploitation through fraud and physical coercion. Internal trafficking often occurs from poorer, more rural regions, to locations with more commercial activity including Dhaka and Chittagong, the country's two largest cities. Women and children from Bangladesh are trafficked to India and Pakistan for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. Many Rohingya refugees from Burma transit through Bangladesh using unofficial methods, leaving 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. Most Bangladeshis who seek overseas employment through legal channels rely on the over 1,000 recruiting agencies belonging to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA). These agencies are legally permitted to charge workers up to $1,235 and place workers in low-skilled jobs typically paying between $100 and $150 per month, but workers are sometimes charged $6,000 or more for these services. Many Bangladeshi migrant laborers are victims of recruitment fraud, including exorbitant recruitment fees often accompanied by fraudulent representation of terms of employment; high recruitment fees increase vulnerability to debt bondage and forced labor among transnational migrant workers. Women typically work as domestic servants; some find themselves in situations of forced labor or debt bondage where they face restrictions on their movements, nonpayment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Some Bangladeshi women working abroad are subsequently forced into prostitution. Some Bangladeshis have been convicted by foreign governments for their human trafficking crimes abroad. There are reports of an increased number of Bangladeshis transiting through Nepal to obtain Nepalese visas and work permits for employment in the Gulf, and many of them are likely trafficking victims. Many Bangladeshi migrant workers including trafficking victims were stranded in Libya in early 2011 due to the civil conflict in that country. Trafficking victims among these migrant workers may be particularly vulnerable to being trapped in Libya as a result of the confiscation of their travel documents and unpaid wages. Some of these migrants who have been able to return to Bangladesh are under pressure to repay the high debts they incurred for recruitment fees.

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. Bangladesh was not placed on Tier 3 per Section 107 of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, however, as the government has shown evidence of a credible, written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan. The Government of Bangladesh demonstrated increased attention to the issue of human trafficking. The government continued to address the sex trafficking of women and children, drafted and submitted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law to the cabinet, and created an interagency task force mandated to monitor recruiting agencies and address high recruitment fees. The government did not prosecute or convict those who trafficked men, as well as those responsible for subjecting Bangladeshi workers to forced labor overseas through fraudulent recruitment mechanisms. The government did not report on law enforcement efforts against Bangladeshi officials who were complicit in human trafficking.

Recommendations for Bangladesh: Enact the draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that criminalises the forced labor of men, in order to integrate anti-labor trafficking objectives into national anti-trafficking policies and programs; increase criminal prosecutions and convictions for all forms of labor trafficking, including those involving fraudulent labor recruitment and forced child labor; take steps to address the allegations concerning the complicity of public officials in trafficking, particularly through the criminal prosecution and punishment of those found involved in or abetting human trafficking; increase the capacity of the Vigilance Task Force and improve oversight of Bangladesh's international recruiting agencies to ensure they are not promoting practices that contribute to labor trafficking; place Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Cell officers in Bangladeshi embassies in destination countries; and provide protection services for adult male trafficking victims and victims of forced labor.

This is the abridged version of the report. For full report,
log on to: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/ 2001/3929.htm




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