Sex Trafficking in Bangladesh and its statistics

 Sex trafficking in Bangladesh and its statistic has become a particularly heinous form of labor exploitation in which women, men, and children are recruited and then forced to work against their will. The statistics of sex trafficking in Bangladesh are also higher.  In Bangladesh, victims of sex trafficking are frequently enticed by false promises of better jobs and lives. Sex trafficking in Bangladesh is the worst crime against men and women, particularly young girls and children.. It still counts as a major human rights violation in today’s world, let alone in Bangladesh.  The scenery and statistic of trafficking in Bangladesh are presented in this article. If you want to learn about it, go through it.


Table of Content (click here)

  1.  What is trafficking?
  2.  The forms of trafficking
  3.  Reasons behind the sex trafficking in Bangladesh
  4.  The purpose of sex trafficking in Bangladesh
  5. Sex Trafficking Data and Statistics in Bangladesh
  6.  Interventions For Combatting Trafficking
  7. Author's Comment

1. What is trafficking?

Sex trafficking in Bangladesh has become the worst crime against women and girls. The statistics of Bangladesh of sex trafficking are higher than other countries. Trafficking means "pachar" in Bengali.  According to the 3rd article of "The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime" protocol,

"Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or of receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs"

It is also considered "modern-day slavery." Again, the umbrella terms like “Trafficking in persons, ” “human trafficking, ” and “modern slavery” are used to refer to both sex trafficking and compelled labor. It is a heinous crime. It violates human rights continuously. Even in today’s world, men and women, especially young girls and children mostly become victim of it.

Sex trafficking breaches women's rights to life, liberty, and personal security. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political (ICCPR). Rights both expresses the basic individual right to life, liberty, and security of a person.

2. The forms of trafficking

There are several forms of sex trafficking in Bangladesh that can be placed. These are:

  1.  Human Trafficking
  2. Slavery
  3. Forced Labor
  4. Labor Trafficking
  5. Domestic Servitude
  6. Forced, sham, servile marriage
  7. Organ Trafficking
  8. Supply Chain
  9. Modern Slavery Act
3. Reasons behind the sex trafficking in Bangladesh

Sex trafficking in Bangladesh has basically happened because of the demand and supply for prostitution, organ selling, and trafficking and slavery. However, poverty, gender equality, and others also play a great role in this crime. 

  • Bangladesh continues to be one of the world's least developed nations. Extreme poverty affects 25 million people (19.23 percent of the total population), with women suffering the most. There are 17, 39,542 poor women in the country, according to the Women's Affairs Directorate. Poverty can motivate parents to sell their children, particularly girls, into slavery or for sex purposes. People in poverty are targeted by traffickers, who promise them a way to make money when, in reality, they will do nothing and be treated as slaves. It encompasses a number of dimensions, including a lack of access to basic services, daily insecurity, disempowerment as a human agency, and the inability to speak out with dignity. Again, natural disasters and climate change lead to poverty, and poor people lose their lands. It turns out in the result of sex trafficking.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Again, illiteracy and unemployment are also counted as a big part of sex trafficking in Bangladesh. Here, girl children and women are still deprived of basic education. It limits women's opportunities to earn and leads them to be more vulnerable to exploitation. Furthermore, in poorer regions of the world, the lack of sex and health education in the curriculum can also lead societies to crimes like trafficking.
  •   In Bangladesh, the demand for cheap labor is high. Commercialized sex creates an endless cycle of buyers and high prices. Trafficking occurs between low-income and high-income countries where there is a demand for low-status labor. Women and girls who are economically disadvantaged in their home country are typically targeted by traffickers. Again, it generates a large profit as it is a lucrative business. For those using sex trafficking, they can easily take all of the profits, forcing women to make a certain amount each night, and keeping them in the situation through drugs, violent force, threats, and more.
  •  Our society is patriarchal and gender inequality is seen vividly. Men are considered economic providers, and women are their dependents. This creates specific gender roles with strong values and norms attached to each. Women's sexuality is controlled by men, and many societies still favor sons, and view daughters as an economic burden. Also, in some countries, bonded labor is seen as an acceptable way to pay off debt. Some countries still practice antiquated slavery, where families have been held for generations by slave masters. In Uzbekistan, forced labor is institutionalized, with all adults and children expected to work in the cotton fields.

  • The desire to travel drives many women to seek better lives abroad. Many women try to travel the world by using employment agencies or study abroad programs without knowing whether the agencies are legitimate. The lack of knowledge and awareness of the agencies and traffickers help them to be the victim of sex trafficking. Lack of safe migration, illegal smuggling, and the route also helps traffickers to do their crime and trafficked women, girls, and men.
4. The purpose of sex trafficking in Bangladesh

Without any reason, crime does not happen. Sex trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry these days. The main purpose of sex trafficking in Bangladesh is prostitution, organ slavery, and slavery. Women and girls are typically trafficked for sexual and economic exploitation, particularly prostitution and pornography, forced labor, including commercial agriculture and domestic work, arranged marriages or to be "sold" as brides, recruitment for hostilities, and related purposes such as sexual services, portage, and domestic functions in conflict situations. Women and children who have been trafficked are forced to work in dehumanizing, arduous, and dangerous jobs in Bangladesh. Women are compelled to engage in heinous professions such as prostitution, and children are used as camel jockeys.

Prostitution- Forced labor and forced prostitution are both forms of trafficking. The majority of Bangladeshi women are sold in brothels or forced into prostitution or cage brothels in receiving countries such as India, Pakistan, and various Middle Eastern countries. The procurement of women for trafficking in the sex industry in Bangladesh involves their entrapment for sale to brothels in Bangladesh or neighboring countries, particularly India. According to reports, 400,000 Bangladeshi women have been forced into prostitution in India. Bangladeshi girls trafficked to India by organized crime groups usually end up in brothels in Kolkata or Mumbai. Many victims are raped by traffickers or border patrol guards from Bangladesh and India.

Forced labor and domestic work- There is an increasing demand for child labor for the sex trade, and domestic work. Bangladeshi children and women and girls are engaged in construction sites, carpet trade, and glass bangles industries and housemaids in Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh, and Karachi.

Begging- In here, women, children, and men are often seen in the streets begging. They are trafficked and forced to live in the streets and beg.

Organ Selling- Organ trafficking is the practice of stealing or buying organs for profit to sell on the black market, whereas transplant tourism is the practice of traveling to another country to buy, sell, or receive organs. Human organs are also taken away for the purpose of saving other people's lives in clinics around the world, including in India.

Pornography - Sex trafficking occurs in all industries, but especially in the pornography industry. Some traffickers use pornographic photos of victims to exert control over them, threatening to shame them by exposing the photos to their families. According to Webroot Cybersecurity, 28,258 users are watching pornography every second, and pornography accounts for 35% of "all Internet downloads." High consumption rates imply high demand.

5. Sex Trafficking Data and Statistics in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and forced prostitution. A significant share of Bangladesh's trafficking victims is men recruited to work overseas with fraudulent employment offers who are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced labor or debt bondage. It also includes the trafficking of children – both boys and girls – within Bangladesh for commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labor, and forced 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. Women and children from Bangladesh are also trafficked to India for commercial sexual exploitation.

Traffickers exploit Bangladeshi women and girls in forced labor and sex trafficking abroad, including in India, Pakistan, and Gulf countries. Traffickers sold some women who migrated through Bangladeshi recruitment agencies to Lebanon or Jordan for domestic work into forced labor. Some Chinese traffickers force Bangladeshi women, specifically indigenous women from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, into sex trafficking and domestic servitude through arranged marriages. Some traffickers falsify identity documents to make children appear older than age 18 to send them abroad. Since 2016, 473 bodies of deceased Bangladeshi domestic workers have been repatriated from the Middle East, including 63 between January and September 2020. This includes the body of a 13-year-old girl sent to Saudi Arabia through a labor recruiter with a falsified passport listing her age as 27. In 2020, NGOs reported traffickers used promises of employment in “COVID-19 free” locations to attract victims.

The traffickers continue to exploit adults and children from all regions of the country in Bangladesh’s legal brothels, many illegal brothels, and private hotels. Traffickers use false promises of work to lure poor women and children into sex trafficking and fabricate exorbitant debts the women and girls as young as 10 must repay. Child sex trafficking remained widespread; experts estimate that 20,000 children are both growing up in and are exploited in commercial sex in Bangladeshi brothels. Several women and girls reported traffickers preyed on them and sold them to brothels after the women fled abusive child marriages. Other women reported they had grown up in brothels because their mothers were engaged in commercial sex, and brothel-owners forced them into commercial sex when they were children. In some registered brothels, owners force children to take steroids to appear older. In legal brothels, some police charge bribes to ignore abuse within the establishment, forego checking for required documentation that each individual is older than 18, and procure fraudulent documentation for children as young as 10 years old. Some traffickers force sex trafficking victims to become addicted to drugs and use addiction to keep them in sex trafficking and forced criminality. Sex traffickers exploit street children in exchange for food, shelter, protection, and money.

In 2018, a survey by an international organization found more than 400,000 children in domestic work in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi children are at risk for forced labor in tanneries. Traffickers coerce street children into criminality or force them to beg, and begging ringmasters sometimes maim children to increase earnings. Traffickers force children, especially in border areas, to produce and transport drugs, particularly yaba. Traffickers use coercive debts to force Bangladeshi families and Indian migrant workers to labor in brick kilns, shrimp farming, and on tea estates.

Bangladesh hosts more than one million undocumented Rohingya refugee camps and host communities in Cox’s Bazar near the Burmese border and other parts of the country, approximately 700,000 of whom arrived after August 2017. Traffickers exploit Rohingya men, women, and children from refugee camps in sex and labor trafficking both within Bangladesh and transnationally. Traffickers transport Rohingya girls within Bangladesh to Chittagong and Dhaka and transnationally in India, Malaysia, and Nepal for sex trafficking, sometimes using false promises of jobs or marriage; some traffickers “trade” these girls over the internet. As reported in previous reporting periods, local criminal networks take Rohingya women from refugee camps at night, exploit them in sex trafficking, and bring them back to the camps during the day. International organizations allege some Bangladeshi officials facilitate the trafficking of Rohingya, including accepting bribes from traffickers to gain access to the camps. Rohingya girls and boys are recruited from camps and forced to labor as shop hands, fishers, rickshaw pullers, and domestic workers. Some Bangladeshi fishers use debt-based coercion to exploit Rohingya men if they place their shelter on the fisher’s land. Some Rohingya men who fled to Bangladesh from Burma decades ago have been trapped in forced labor through debt-based coercion of Bangladeshi fishers for decades. In 2016, some traffickers sold into forced labor Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, who traveled by boat to Southeast Asia and could not pay ransoms. Multiple NGOs and humanitarian officials assess Rohingyas’ statelessness and inability to receive formal schooling or to work legally have increased their vulnerability to traffickers. International organizations allege some Bangladeshi officials facilitate the trafficking of Rohingya, including accepting bribes from traffickers to gain access to the camps. Tourists increase the demand for child sex tourism, including the exploitation of Rohingya girls, near Cox’s Bazar.

6.  Interventions For Combatting Trafficking 

The previous section denotes the sex trafficking situation and its statistics in Bangladesh. As sex trafficking is growing larger, government agencies and NGOs, together with the international community, have adopted a variety of interventions and strategies to combat trafficking in women and children.

These include:

(i) Training of law enforcement officers

(ii) Rescue and rehabilitation for women and girl victims of trafficking;

(iii) Protection and awareness-raising among women and girls to prevent trafficking;

(iv) Reduction by advocacy and awareness-raising among parents and guardians

(v) Reduction through the provision of alternative employment and income-earning opportunities for women and girls;

(vi) Reduction through campaigns targeting parents on the long-term advantages of girls' education 

  Many countries have ratified international treaties that impose responsibilities to outlaw slavery and slavery-like behaviors. While some sex trafficking scenarios do not involve the permanent ownership that has historically been associated with slavery, they can involve exploitation and denial of liberty that is equivalent to slavery. Slavery-like behaviors, such as slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, and forced marriages, are also outlawed in sex trafficking circumstances.

7. Author's Comment

Sex trafficking is one of the worst crimes which violates not only human rights but also the liberty of the people, basically women and young girls. Their education, mobility, reproductive health, and other socio-cultural stigmas are hampered through it. In Bangladesh,  the statistics and sex trafficking incidents which show us the need of ensuring women's rights and enforce laws in order to eliminate this crime. Poverty, illiteracy, the demand, and supply of this crime need to be decreased. Again the law must be implemented. Thus, sex trafficking in Bangladesh can be eradicated indeed.

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