The number of Bangladeshi women being forced into prostitution in India has been increasing at a worrying rate. These women were mostly cajoled into travelling to India – sometimes illegally – with promises of well-paid jobs.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Moazzem Ali recently wrote to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal about an increase in trafficked Bangladeshi girls and women to India.
Ali requested Dhaka to take necessary steps, reports Bangla Tribune.
He noted that women and children of all ages are being trafficked to India mostly from Jessore, Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Kushtia and southern districts.
They are sold to various brothels or pimps in Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, and Pune, among other Indian cities.
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The conditions of West Bengal and other northeastern Indian states are somewhat similar to Bangladesh. However, the number of women from those states being forced into prostitution is less compared to Bangladesh because those states successfully raised public awareness among the people, he added.
Bangladesh’s Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai Samina Naz said: "From 2014 to March 2017, we have issued travel permits to more than 350 Bangladeshi women for going back to Bangladesh.”
She said they were processing travel permits of a number of other women.
“Whenever we are informed about such victims, we immediately contact the Indian authorities and take initiatives to send them home,” she added.
A diplomat, declining to be named, said in cases where the victims get pregnant or give birth to a child, they register the child’s birth certificate mentioning that the father is an Indian national.
The diplomat said this humanitarian issue should be discussed in Bangladesh-India bilateral talks.
Indian charity Prerana said 128 out of 213 children of sex workers enrolled at their night care center in Mumbai's Kamathipura red-light district from 2010-15 had a Bengali-speaking mother, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Similar increases have been seen in other parts of the city. Trafficked Bangladeshi women in Mumbai are often too afraid and ignorant about their rights to seek help.
South Asia is the fastest-growing region for human trafficking in the world, and the second-largest after Southeast Asia, according to the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
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The underground human trafficking human trafficking trade makes it difficult to determine the number of people trafficked within South Asia every year.
It is believed that the number is no less than 150,000 and rising given that the lucrative criminal trade is worth an estimated $2 billion a year in Asia.
A government official, seeking anonymity, said: "Bangladeshi women are lured to India [with false promises] but when these women are caught, they do not want to admit that.”
In the last six months, only 150-200 people were handed over to police while crossing the border illegally in different areas of Jessore and one-third of those apprehended were women.
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Jessore Sector Commander Brig Gen Kazi Toufiqul Islam said in March last year, Indian Border Security Force organised a seminar on human trafficking and invited the BGB.
“Two Indian NGOs presented their research articles on Bangladeshi women in various Indian brothels,” he said.
It is believed that the number of Bangladeshi-origin people in India is more than 3 million and hundreds of others cross the border porous 4,000km border illegally every day, according to Reuters.
Human traffickers pray on the poor rural communities with promises of good jobs and a better life.
High Commissioner Moazzem Ali also mentioned that the trafficking of women and children put a dent on the country's image when it was being led to prosperity under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Human trafficking has been a headache for both Dhaka and Delhi. In 2015, the two neighbours signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation and information sharing to ensure faster investigations and prosecutions of traffickers.
A dismaying report by the US State Department says the human trafficking situation in Bangladesh has gotten worse.
The US Trafficking in Persons Report 2017 has downgraded Bangladesh as the government is yet to fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.