Analysis of Reasons for Human Trafficking in Bangladesh
Slavery has been endemic to human societies for years with the vice being considered a violation of human rights in 1926 for year. This consideration of slavery a violation of human rights was after the League of Nations drafted the Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour and Similar Institutions and Practices Convention (Biswas, 2015, p.85). The later years marked immense changes in the socio-economic conditions that resulted in increased expectations and hopes by humans and consequently changing the human mobility. In the wake of these changes, has been the rise of human trafficking which has become a concern in many regions for its inherent violation of human rights. Ruhi (2003, p.45) explains that human trafficking causes both political and social concerns globally. Ruhi further states that the vice of human trafficking is made worse due its marked global of the act as a criminal enterprise.
South Asia is one of the main contributors of human trafficking to that number. UNICEF report estimates that 400 people are trafficked every month in Bangladesh alone (as cited by Sultana, 2015, para. 7). This number solidifies Bangladesh as one of the main source countries for human trafficking in South Asia. The condition in the country has reached an acute condition. Primarily, Bangladesh has come to a critical condition due to its role in the human trafficking infrastructure. According to a report by the Ministry of Home Affairs (2012, p.9), Bangladesh plays as both a destination, transit, and source for victims of human trafficking. Kumar (2015, p.21) explains that human trafficking in Bangladesh involves both adults and children who are trafficked for domestic servitude, sexual exploitation and bonded and forced labour. Women are primarily trafficked for sexual exploitation. Human trafficking results from a combination of both national and transnational factors (Ministry of Home Affairs, 2012, p.9). An analysis of the various factors that promote human trafficking reveals three primary causes. These factors include the existence and establishment of efficient and fluid structures for human trafficking, poor legal framework and presence of high market demand that encourages the activity.
Evaluation of factors that promote human trafficking in Bangladesh
One of the factors that cause human trafficking is the high population in the country is the high rates of poverty (Chowdhury, p.58). The existence of the high population makes some of the society’s groups vulnerable to human trafficking. According to Johns Hopkins University (pp.1-2), this factor is further enhanced by the increased urbanisation in the country mainly due to uneven urban-rural development resulting in urban poverty among those migrating to urban areas. The increased urban immigrants provide a high supply base for human traffickers. Moreover, individuals who are highly hit by poverty become subject to coercion by human traffickers especially through being promised employment as they seek means of survival. The report by Johns Hopkins University (p.2) explains that poverty makes individuals susceptible to human trafficking as they are prone to being lured easily into job offers and marriages abroad and consequently being exploited through trafficking.
The government of Bangladesh created the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare’s Vigilance Task Force that acts as oversight for the labour recruitment process (Chowdhury, p.58). This ministry seeks to ensure integrity and validity of job offers for the citizens of Bangladesh. The National Task Force for Anti-Child Trafficking was also formed to curb child trafficking. Moreover, UNICEF (2005, p.4) accounts for the existence of support services to the individuals especially the children in poverty raided areas as a way of reducing their susceptibility level. These efforts have, however, been faced with various challenges. For instance, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare’s Vigilance Task Force lacks adequate funds and professionalism to carry out its mandate (Chowdhury, p.58). Moreover, there is the lack of reliable data on cross-border and national trafficking to prevent the vice (Rahman, 2011a, p.12).
The above section highlights aspects of poverty as they relate to human trafficking. Poverty is often related to issues of inequality and discrimination. According to Rahman (2011a, p.6), Bangladesh is marked by high levels of discrimination against women. Such inequality in the country makes women and children susceptible to human trafficking. Disparities in income in regions and job opportunities encourage people out to exploitation. Discrimination in Bangladesh further facilitates to human trafficking. There is feminization of poverty that makes especially women and children susceptible to trafficking. The society in Bangladesh has always been male dominant despite being at the top 20 countries in the world with more men than women (Aneki, 2014). Moreover, low education level further facilitates discrimination of women. Only 3.8% of the female population over the age of 5 completing the US equivalent of an associate degree, the young girls remain lowly educated to break the gender barrier (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 2003, p.23).
There have been various attempts to combat trafficking through prevention of gender-based factors promoting the vice. According to Ministry of Home Affairs (2012, p.23), one of the initiatives was the formulation of Bangladesh Ansar-Village Defence Party. Half of the members of this organization are women. It reaches out to the community to sensitize them on issues and impacts of human trafficking. Moreover, training by the Training Directorate of Border Guard Bangladesh further helps to prevent making people susceptible to trafficking due to gender discrimination (Ministry of Home Affairs (2012, p.21).
It is also worth noting that economic motives on the part of perpetrators promote proliferation of human trafficking. Rahman (2011a, p.5) accounts for the profitability of the human trafficking industry. The industry has a low penalty nature and incurs high profit to perpetrators. Moreover, the aspect of economic conditions relates to both the perpetrators and the victims making it critical factor that encourages human trafficking (Rahman, 2011b, p.62). As highlighted earlier, individuals from poverty raided areas are highly susceptible to being subjects of human trafficking as they seek means of evading their economic state. Consequently, they become vulnerable to job offers and coercion by human traffickers. Such economic benefits are attractive to prospective perpetrators. The economic advantages of the industry can be inferred from the high rate of recruiting agents in the country despite its legal penalties (Rahman, 2011a, p.6). For instance, for a single victim, a tout, and a trafficker earns about 10,000-50,000 takas and 50,000-500,000 takas respectively. According to Rosy (2013, p.9), the government has formulated preventive measures to combat the vice of trafficking due to its high attractiveness. The government has liaised with non-governmental organizations for support in achieving its objectives in preventing trafficking.
The social system in Bangladesh is also a contributing factor in human trafficking. According to Johns Hopkins University (p.2), the dowry system in the country helps to make some women susceptible to human trafficking. Occasionally, women are abused by their husbands or other family members when the dowry is not paid up-front. Such abuse is often directed to the girls family to pay for the dowry. However, the abuse makes the girls prone to enticement by human traffickers or even running away to escape further abuse. Moreover, Rahman (2011b, p.66) adds that the society also encourages trafficking by supporting it. For instance, women given for marriage cannot resist. Consequently, support of human trafficking by culture has seen the rise of culturally based modes of human trafficking such as the marrying based trafficking.
According to Ruhi (2003, p.48), procurement of girls for trafficking is occasionally through marriage. Traffickers use the deception of love and marriage to attract victims from Bangladesh. Traffickers entice girls by making them believe that they are in love with them and convince them to elope. Unfortunately, the girls fall for the deception and leave their families in the hopes for a better and happy life with their boyfriend. Moreover, daughters are often seen as a burden to the family, and families are required to pay dowry to the groom during wedding in Bangladesh. Thus, families that are poor are compelled to marry their daughter off to an unfamiliar person who does not request dowry (Datta, 2011, p.56). These girls end up being sold or forced into prostitution by their purported “husband.” Such factor can be combated through training as have been indicated in previous sections. Training and awareness by such Bangladesh Ansar-Village Defence Party will help to sensitize people on human trafficking.
It is also noteworthy that some religious and traditional practices play a crucial role in promoting human trafficking. For instance, Ruhi (2015, p.48) states that there is girl dedication to gods and goddesses that make them susceptible to human trafficking. There are also social acceptance of vices such as child labour and prostitution (Ruhi, 2015, p.48; Rahman, 2011a, p.4).
Social conventions and misconceptions also encourage human trafficking. Ruhi (2015, p.48) explains that child marriages, stigmatization of unwed, divorced or sexually abused women support human trafficking. Social misconceptions such as healing of sexually related diseases by having intercourse with virgins also promote trafficking. Consequently, there is high demand for young virgin girls. Moreover, many people believe that intercourse with a young girl is safe and will not result in infection with sexually transmitted diseases. This belief increases the demand for young girls and also low-income families being coerced into selling young girls for prostitution (Datta, 2011. p.56). Moreover, this demand for young virgin girls is further escalated by the increased spread of HIV/AIDS in South Asia. Many men also believe that having sexual intercourse with young girls improves their sexual masculinity.
There have been various efforts to combat social factors that contribute to human trafficking. One of these is the government plan for prevention, protection, and prosecution. The prevention phase plays an essential factor in protecting socially prone individuals from trafficking. The government established the National Anti-Trafficking Committee to combat trafficking and create awareness (Rosy, 2013, p.9). The committee protects individuals prone to human trafficking and refer them to protective services. Moreover, non-government organizations such as Adarsha Samaj Seba Samity, Comilla, and Association for Integrated Development facilitate to create social awareness and sensitization of the society against human trafficking.
Market demand is also a critical factor that encourages human trafficking. According to Ruhi (2015, p.47), various market factors promote human trafficking in Bangladesh. For instance, there is high demand for commercial sex due to escalated tourism, rural-urban migration, and industrialization. The commercial sex industry has also been expanding promoting increased demand for sex workers. The demand for sex workers encourages the growth of human trafficking as women are needed to work in the industry. Kumar (2015, p.21) infers that such demand factors support physical and fraud coercion of people into commercial sex. Moreover, the high demand for sex workers also causes traffickers to force children from poor regions into prostitution.
Need for cheap labour by enterprises and employers further enhances the aspect of market demand as a reason for human trafficking (Ruhi, 2015, p.47). The need for the low cost labour facilitates the development of human trafficking. Demand for cheap labour and other labour driven factors promote are pertinent core factors causing human trafficking. Rosy (2013, p.4) accounts for this inference by stating that 32 percent of human trafficking victims are used for economic exploitation. Little effort has been put to control the demand factor. Johns Hopkins University (p.3) explains that the government lacks a comprehensive structure to manage market demand. For instance, the penal code prevents the procurement of girls below the age of 18 for illicit intercourse with another person. However, the code does not account for young adults who might also be subject to trafficking.
The poor legal system has also significantly contributed to human trafficking. According to Rahman (2011a, p.5), the law in Bangladesh is at low state to combat human trafficking. Moreover, little effort has been put to effect the existing laws against human trafficking. The government has also failed to ensure proper awareness of people regarding protection agencies. Rahman infers this by stating that there is a high number of women and girls who are trafficked while there are a low number of registered cases. Chowdhury (p.57) explains that the government does not have efficient structures to identify victims of trafficking. Moreover, the government fails to provide protection services to male victims. Moreover, detaining of trafficking victims deters people from seeking help and cooperating with the government.
Corruption in the government affects formulation and implementation of efficient infrastructure to combat human trafficking. Rahman (2011b, p.63) explains that corruption by the government officials and security officers act as a barrier to the strengthening of security measures. Consequently, detection, suppression and control of activities of human trafficking are hindered. such factors combined with the low political will to curb human trafficking allow the vice to flourish (Ruhi, 2015, p.48).
Moreover, is prudent to note that human trafficking is promoted by the existence and establishment of effective structures for the activity. Rahman (2011a, p.6) accounts for an efficient process of recruitment of traffickers. Additionally, there are effective links among the traffickers as well as ability to conceal their information. Recruitment of security officials to the trafficking activity further enhance these factors. Rosy (2013, p.44) accounts for the involvement of security officials in helping traffickers while failing to provide security along borders. Rahman (2011a, p.9) add to this factor by stating that the security officials sexually exploited victims of human trafficking instead of offering protection to them. Formal procedures when entering or exiting through these transit points are rarely enforced, and there is only vague laws in place to safeguard cross-border trafficking. Inadequate control of the border between India and Bangladesh, and flexible documentation requirements enables traffickers to move people across borders freely (Datta, 2011, p.57).
The above discussion has highlighted some of the factors that contribute to the flourishing of human trafficking. Several factors can be inferred to be the primary causes of human trafficking. The most crucial causative factor is the existence of efficient and fluid structures for human trafficking. These structures prevent detection of human traffickers by security agencies. These structures also help to conceal data on the number of trafficked people and hence preventing recovery process through the government action plan of prevention, protection and prosecution. These structures also involve use of confiscated means such as marriages and new routes for trafficking also helps deter detection.
Ineffective legal framework in the country highly promotes human trafficking. The lack of effective mechanisms for preventing the vice and the involvement of security officers in human trafficking are core facilitators for the activity. It is also prudent to infer that lack of adequate control of activities such as child labour, the sex industry and sex tourism contributes to a high demand for workers and consequently promoting human trafficking.
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