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Traffickers lure people with false employment offers

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A significant share of Bangladesh's human trafficking victims are persons recruited for work overseas with false employment offers.  Many of them are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced labor, reports   said.
Bangladeshis migrate willingly to different countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, Malaysia and  also Liberia for work, often under legal and contractual terms. Bangladeshis who seek overseas employment through legal channels depend on the recruiting agencies belonging to the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA). Some syndicates are  however, engaged in illegal  human trafficking.
Over one million women and  children have been trafficked out of the country in the last 30 years, reports said adding about 300,000 Bangladeshi children and women  have been trafficked to India alone in the last 10 years.
The recruiting  agencies are legally permitted to charge workers up to $1,235 and place workers in low-skilled jobs typically paying between $100 and $150 per month. According to NGOs, however, many workers are charged upwards of $6,000 for these services. A recent Amnesty International report on Malaysia indicated Bangladeshis spend more than three times the amount of recruitment fees paid by other migrant workers recruited for work in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, a total of 73 people including women and children were detained near St. Martin in the Bay of Bengal by members of Coast Guard on last Saturday when they were being trafficked to Malaysia  by boat. Such  unsafe migration frequently takes place escaping the notice of law enforcing agencies.
When contacted an official of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) told The New Nation that the members of law enforcing agencies try to stop illegal migration. BMET, he said, has recently reached an understanding with some NGOs including BRAC to create awareness among the people  to stop unsafe  and  risky migration.
The organized groups who are behind human trafficking  sometimes escape  punishment taking advantage of lapses of law,  Javed Ahmed , Additional Director General of BMET said.
He said, "We have been resolving complaints against recruiting agencies for cheating the people. The number of cases resolved successfully  is quite large  and the amount of compensation money realized is also quite substantial.  But except creating awareness we can do little to check   unsafe migration."
The number of people cheated by recruiting agencies, Javed Ahmed said, would not exceed more than two to three per cent of the total number of migrated people. Referring to a question of domestic aids who had been  to Hong Kong, he said,  only about a dozen out of a total of  300  have returned home  for  their failure to adjust to its culture.  
  Bangladesh has continued to address the illegal trafficking of women and children, reports said adding despite significant efforts, the government could not demonstrate evidence of increased efforts to prosecute and convict labor trafficking offenders.
Professor Zakir Hossain, Dean, Faculty of Law at University of Chitagong told the media "Any effective and sustainable effort to combat human trafficking must be integrated, transnational and collaborative." Given the complex, organized and clandestine nature of the crime, and deliberate reluctance and avoidance of the victim's family to report cases of trafficking for a number of socio-psychological reasons, it is difficult to have appropriate data and statistics on human trafficking, he said.
 So far, Bangladesh has made efforts to strengthen its response to human trafficking by being a part of SAARC and its Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution and its Convention on Regional Agreements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia,  he said.  
The crime of trafficking is mainly committed against those who are socially and economically vulnerable. Economic underdevelopment generates huge exodus of men and women to affluent countries, he said.
The Constitution of Bangladesh prohibits forced and compulsory labor (Article 34). In addition, the Penal Code, 1860 (Sections 372, 373, and 466A), the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1933 (Sections 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10) and the Repression of Violence against Women and Children Act, 2000 (Articles 5 and 6) clearly provide that trafficking is an illegal and punishable offence for which capital punishment may be imposed as the maximum punishment.

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