Stop Human Trafficking the Most Hated Crime in the World
July 30 is the 20th Anti-Trafficking in Persons Day. The theme of this year is the use and misuse of technology. Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the use of technology has taken a different dimension in the changed situation. Most of our daily lives have now shifted to online platforms. As the use of technology brings many benefits to our life, its misuse also brings us dire dangers. In addition to various types of violence and crime, human trafficking is further accelerated by the current digital technologies such as apps or platforms.
Millions of people leave the country every year in the hope of livelihood and better life in the reality of Bangladesh. Their dream is a little happiness and prosperity. Unfortunately, most of these dreamers fall into the clutches of human traffickers. Dreadful networks of smuggling syndicates spread across the country. In some cases, they smuggle people abroad through their own agents or brokers by showing various temptations. This is very old information. Currently, the use of information technology is increasing as a new addition to the human trafficking cycle. And in this case, the main target of traffickers are women, children and teenagers. Recently, we have learned that the members of the trafficking gang form separate groups on various apps including Facebook, Messenger, TikTok, and Likey, based on the video of the horrific torture of a Bangladeshi girl who was trafficked to India by ‘TikTok Hriday and his forces’ went viral on social media. After that, they make contact with women through Tik Tok shows, Likey shows, and pool parties and at one point lured them abroad in various ways including the lure of a better life. They take women abroad and force them to do immoral work.
But hopefully, these brokers and miscreants can be identified with the proper use of digital technology that is being misused for human trafficking. Nowadays, using digital technology, it is easy to identify the trafficker and his location. All this can be done by tracking small mobile phone calls and transfers of development and that technology are available to the local police. And if the government compels mobile operators and mobile money transfer companies to provide information from their big data, then the problem can be solved more easily. The country now also has a Digital Security Act. So a case of digital fraud can be filed by accusing the trafficker from the phone records and Bkash, cash, kate records of sending money.
According to data from several studies, human trafficking is the third largest criminal activity in the world after drug and arms trafficking. The first two crimes are often associated with human trafficking. Human trafficking is currently the fastest-growing activity of international criminal gangs. Like other countries in the world, Bangladesh has suffered a lot due to this crime. Interpol recently detailed Operation Libertarra, in which authorities from several countries worked together to rescue 430 victims of human trafficking and arrest 286 suspects in connection with it. Among those rescued were migrants and teenage girls who were being trafficked to Greece from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Syria.
According to the information obtained from various reports and studies recently, it can be assumed that human trafficking is increasing in Bangladesh. It is difficult to judge whether the number of trafficking has actually increased, or whether the authorities have become more efficient than ever in arresting those involved in trafficking. But it is certain that thousands of people fall into the clutches of traffickers every year. The main reason behind this is the desperate efforts of people to go abroad in the hope of good jobs. But, they try to go abroad without knowing the risks of being trafficked or being forced into slavery-like work.
In the past few years, the government of Bangladesh has been able to build a good resistance against human traffickers and has also managed to rescue many victims of trafficking. According to a US report, this success has moved Bangladesh up two ranks among countries struggling against human trafficking. Some of the main traffickers have been identified and arrested and it is known that most of them directly or indirectly have political supporters or are powerful politicians themselves. This also shows how influential and powerful people in society have used their power to keep this modern form of slavery going. Undoubtedly, this has made the fight against human trafficking more complicated. However, the authorities should take necessary measures to curb this crime.
The utility of reducing the risk of human trafficking by increasing safe migration campaigns has already been proven. Governments should invest in upskilling potential migrants and ensure additional security for them. It is equally important to invest in supporting migrants with more advanced and necessary information before they leave the country and ensuring security through Bangladeshi state representatives abroad. But at the end of the day, given the nature of this crime and the international network of traffickers, governments need to work in coordination with other countries. This crime must be suppressed through international action by disrupting well-organized human trafficking and smuggling networks.
Amid the global pandemic and growing inequality and massive economic losses, the voices of survivors and people at risk of trafficking are being lost. But listening to them is even more important now because the Covid-19 crisis has increased the risk for them and created more crises. The Covid pandemic has pushed another 130 million people into extreme poverty. Millions of people are at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. Children are at greater risk and increasing. One-third of all victims of human trafficking worldwide are children. This rate has tripled in the last 15 years. Half of the victims of human trafficking in low-income countries are children, the vast majority of whom are trafficked for forced labor. Criminals everywhere are using technology to identify, control and exploit vulnerable people. The rate of targeting children through online platforms for sexual exploitation, forced marriage and other forms of abuse is increasing day by day. Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation continues to be one of the most widespread and heinous forms of human trafficking. Victims of trafficking make up more than half of migrants in most regions.
Governments around the world must take urgent action to prevent human trafficking, assist victims, and bring traffickers to justice. These measures include the implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Reduce and Punish Trafficking in Persons. We should act on the voices of victims of human trafficking. Victims’ contributions are paramount in identifying risk conditions and patterns, identifying and protecting victims of trafficking, obtaining and redressing justice, as well as holding accountable those who take advantage of their vulnerability.The United Nations is committed to listening to and acting on the voices of victims of human trafficking, protecting their rights and dignity, raising their voices and learning from them to prevent and stop this horrific crime.
The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act 2012 (Rule 2017) and following this, the National Action Plan for the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking 2018-2022 have established a special tribunal for the prevention and suppression of human trafficking; Which is a strong step of the Bangladesh government to prevent trafficking. In recognition of this, the position of Bangladesh has risen to the second level in the world report on human trafficking in the United States. There is no way to deny this, simple people from different parts of the country are being trafficked abroad by various gangs with the lure of jobs with high salaries. There are also allegations that trafficked women and children are involved in various illegal activities including prostitution.The ‘Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act of 2012 provides for the death penalty, life imprisonment and maximum of 7 years imprisonment and a minimum fine of five lakh taka for organized human trafficking.
According to the US’s ‘Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, the country’s Department of State publishes a report titled ‘Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in five steps every year to raise awareness about human trafficking. The report ranks 188 countries in the world, including the United States, based on the initiatives and capabilities of various countries in combating human trafficking. According to their ranking criteria, countries that have taken all the necessary steps to prevent trafficking are placed in Tier One (Tier One), while countries that have taken significant steps to prevent trafficking are placed in Tier Two.
The issue of human trafficking is very worrying for Bangladesh. Human trafficking news is a daily issue in the media. There are more than 6 thousand human trafficking cases. Six thousand 134 cases have been registered in the country in the last eight years under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act. But only 233 have been settled. 5 thousand 901 cases are pending in different courts. Out of this, only 54 people have been sentenced to different terms in 33 cases. Many cases cannot be heard because the accused and witnesses cannot appear in court on time. As a result, the proceedings in the judicial court are pending.”
In the context of a country like Bangladesh, the answer to the question of why people are victims of human trafficking, two issues can be discussed the most, first; Insolvency and secondly; unemployment People’s efforts to get rid of poverty are a traditional thing. If any person or institution shows the way of employment, development of one’s fortune, and future, many people resort to that person or institution. They use this opportunity to risk their lives illegally and migrate abroad. Traffickers obtain their interests in exchange for money. They were handed over to their liaison gangs abroad. Many people die brutally with no recourse, trapped for life in the net of slavery, forced to engage in inhumane labor as children.
We observe Anti-Human Trafficking Day. Talk about it in various forums. We work to create social awareness to prevent human trafficking and labor trafficking. But the political will is still not that strong in this regard. If the political will is strong, strict and effective measures can be taken to prevent human trafficking’s like combating militancy and terrorism. Human trafficking could truly be curbed if there was political will.
Hiren Pandit is a researcher