Survivors of human trafficking make their voices heard

Dhaka, Bangladesh – 12 August 2021 – To mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons (TIP) GLO.ACT-Bangladesh, in collaboration with the Switzerland supported Ashshash project implemented by Winrock International organized a webinar on 26 July 2021. Corresponding to this year's theme – "Victims' Voices Lead the Way", the webinar aimed to promote and empower the voices of victims of human trafficking to government officials and development partners working directly on addressing human trafficking in Bangladesh. Over 100 participants (46 female, 54 male) including 36 survivors of human trafficking (17 female, 19 male) joined the online event.

Central to the webinar was the recognition that any efforts to address human trafficking and support its victims must be guided by survivors. Their contribution is essential to address risk factors and patterns, and to identify and protect victims and ensure their access to justice and recovery, while holding their exploiters accountable. Webinar participants also recognized that it is crucial to listen and respond to the voices of survivors of human trafficking to ensure their rights are met and dignity ensured. By amplifying their stories, we can learn from survivors in fight to prevent and put an end to this terrible crime. In this context, eight survivors shared their stories during the webinar. They spoke about the challenges they faced and the way forward, highlighting the need to ensure access to justice for victims is made available but also focused on the need for effective reintegration services.

Beside engaging survivors as the speakers, representatives from key ministries and other relevant stakeholders also participated. In addition, to amplify the efforts of sharing the survivors stories a short film, made available with the support of IOM, was prepared and shown during the 28July webinar organized by the Counter Trafficking in Persons Technical Working Group of Bangladesh UN Network on Migration to commemorate the World Day. The film was also widely promoted via social media.

During the webinar, survivors of human trafficking made recommendations to ensure comprehensive support services, including psychosocial, legal, shelter-home, and health care services are made available and to make the reintegration process more seamless:

  1. To ensure the quality pre-departure training for prospective migrants is facilitated along with mandatory visa checking facilities at District Employment and Manpower Offices (DEMO);
  2. There should be direct intervention against the confiscation of mobile phones and passports by the employers in destination countries, and increased facilitation of shelter or safe homes (established by the Government of Bangladesh) in the destination countries;
  3. To ensure sustainable reintegration upon return to Bangladesh, governmental support must be widened and easily accessible to the survivors;
  4. Facilitation of financial aid from the government and capital-based support from financial institutions to start business ventures can be made easier for the survivors;
  5. Speedy trials must be ensured for survivors seeking access to justice whilst additionally ensuring the functionality of the Counter-Trafficking Committees (CTCs).

Representatives from the government ministries, NGOs, INGOs, and the United Nations agreed to listen to the voices of survivors by taking their recommendations on board. Abu Hena Mostofa Zaman, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, concluded the session by noting the significance of correctly identifying and labelling the distinct human trafficking circumstances for each case, and vowed to take unwavering actions against its perpetrators. All in participance emphasized the collective effort needed to combat human trafficking in Bangladesh.

The involvement of the survivors of trafficking in the event was conducted in an ethical manner and respected the rights of the participants.

The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants - Bangladesh (GLO.ACT - Bangladesh) is a joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). GLO.ACT-Bangladesh builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 in 13 partner countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. 

Through targeted, innovative and demand-driven interventions, the GLO.ACT aims to support the Government of Bangladesh and civil society organizations to more effectively fight the crimes of human trafficking and migrant smuggling across the country. The project works on developing evidence-based information on trafficking and smuggling patterns and trends, legislative review and harmonization, capability development of criminal justice actors, and international cooperation. The project also provides direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and migrants in vulnerable situations through the strengthening of identification, referral, and protection mechanisms. The project is fully committed to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all of its activities.

The project is funded by the European Union.

For more information, please contact:

Mahdy Hassan: muhammad.hassan@un.org

unodc-glo.act@un.org

GLO.ACT Bangladesh

Twitter: @glo_act