To utter dismay to conscious section of people, the absence of tribunal in dealing with the cases of human trafficking and worrying picture of rising trafficking have worsened the situation. Seven years have elapsed after the passage of the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act in 2012, but no tribunal is in sight to dispose of the human trafficking cases, making the trafficking scenario more intricate with the further increase of trafficking. Only 0.5 percent of human traffickers have been prosecuted in the last seven years.
Since 2013, a total of 6,106 people were arrested in connection with human trafficking, but only 25 of them have been convicted, according to a data of the Police Headquarters. The highest number of human trafficking cases were filed in Dhaka followed by the second highest in Jashore and the third highest in Cox’s Bazar.
Talking to The Bangladesh Post Omar Faruque Chowdhury, Executive Director of Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP) said, “People who try to go abroad are mostly unskilled and illiterate. Often they fall into traps of human traffickers due to their lack of enough information”. With overseas goers facing harsh reality, Omar Faruque Chowdhury said the government should go for taking stringent measures against the unlicensed recruiting agencies. If law enforcers continue their ongoing drives the grave situation of human trafficking would be under control, he added.
There is no actual data on trafficking, as many victims do not return, and many who do, are not willing to disclose what happened to them, fearing social stigma. Professor and Researcher Anwar Zahid said, “Educated people also fall into human traffickers cycles but they don’t admit it for their social status. Whoever planning to go abroad he or she must follow the government-provided guidelines under the licensed recruiting agencies”
Elaborating on the government and non-government organizations’ role in human trafficking, he said skilled and literate workers should be selected for sending abroad. An unskilled and illiterate worker without training should not be considered for sending abroad, he added. Globally, every year around 800,000 women and children are falling prey to human trafficking along the international borders and 80% of them end up in forced prostitution.
In South Asia, human trafficking is estimated to affect over 150,000 people a year - mostly women and children who are exploited for labor and sex trade. Of identified victims globally, 51% are women, 21% men, 20% of girls, and 8% boys. Of them 45% have been trafficked for sexual exploitation and 38% for forced labor.
Experts said Rohingyas are the most vulnerable in this situation, desperately seeking income to improve their condition. Traffickers often offer women, children, and families, money and a better future, which sounds very appealing to vulnerable refugees in camps. Law enforcement agencies face some hurdles in their efforts to investigate human trafficking cases due to some loopholes in the relevant acts and rules, they noted.
United Nations agency International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally, and they include the victims of human trafficking. Women and girls comprise 71% of human trafficking victims.
The government reported 770 potential victims based on the number of cases recorded with police in 2017; of those identified, 383 were men, 258 women, and 129 children. The government identified 355; 1,815; and 2,899 victims in 2016, 2015, and 2014, respectively. Police directly recovered from exploitative situations 545 of the 770 potential victims identified in 2017.
NGOs and international organizations reported identifying more than one thousand victims during the reporting period. Notably, one international organization identified 37 Rohingya victims who were subjected to trafficking within Bangladesh and provided them rehabilitation services. The Bangladesh Army and the Rapid Action Battalion reportedly were active in the identification of potential Rohingya victims of trafficking.