by Mohshin Habib
Malik 42, a rickshaw-puller, described to his wife Anwara, "If we send our daughter to Middle East, the land of the Emirs, all of our stresses and adversities will fade away. She will get an attractive job over there. A very reliable, kind and rich man came from Dhaka. He will provide everything. In case of money shortage, he will let us a sum of expenditure as credit."
So the couple decided to send their only child, Tania, 13, to Dubai to work as a maidservant. At the time they gave their hard-earned $500 to a broker. Nobody knows where Tania is now.
Hundreds of young girls are being forced to stow away to go into Indian and Pakistani prostitution, to live a completely sub-human life. In the Middle East, most of the trafficked girls from Bangladesh are subjected of commercial sexual exploitation, perverted sexual abuse in the name of "domestic service."
These are common scenarios of the remote areas and even sometimes in the district towns of Bangladesh, where the families are losing their daughters and young boys those are being used for terrible purposes.
On December 12, the Bangladeshi cabinet approved a new law that calls for the death penalty for human trafficking. Since December 12, there have been a dozen cases reported by the media after some victims died on the way to their forced destinations.
According to U.S. Department of State's report 2011, however, "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." The Home & Communication adviser of the interim [dubbed an "emergency" government] government of Bangladesh in 2007, and later the elected relevant authority, confessed that the number of victims, as some non-government organizations also reported, is as high as 40 thousand a year.
The U.S. state department also reported that, "The Government of Bangladesh made some efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the last three years. The government's insufficient efforts to protect victims of forced labor – who constitute a large share of victims in the country – and adult male victims of trafficking is a continuing concern. The government did not have a systematic procedure to identify trafficking victims and vulnerable populations, and to refer victims of trafficking to protective services."
In a parliamentary election in Bangladesh in 2008, before which all political parties declared what was to be in their manifestos, it was extremely disappointing that not one political party proposed to stop trafficking. Instead, they all emphasized the "Blasphemy Act:" both the so-called secular and religious parties gave commitments not to prepare any law against the guidelines of the Koran.
This is why the new initiative, forced by the Western countries and taken by the Bangladeshi government, is not working properly.
Bangladesh is now the most densely populated country in the world. More than 80% of the people here are Muslim and strongly believe that Islam does not allow any kind of birth control. Consequently the average birthrate in the Islam dominated states is three times higher than the rest of the world. So we see a rickshaw-puller, a day laborer, having five or six children, while we see success stories of family planning in the formal papers of the government and the non-governmental organizations.
If the camel-jockey issue, of boys as young as six being forced to race camels has been eliminated after the international community noticed and took the problem seriously, so can trafficking, as well as child labor in shocking conditions, be eliminated, too.
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