Preventing and halting human trafficking in Bangladesh

Justice and Care

At a glance

Bangladesh is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.

his project is a strategically targeted intervention to prevent human trafficking and slavery, to protect and rehabilitate victims, and to create lasting systemic improvement in how governments and stakeholders approach this crime.

The partners

Justice and Care pioneered its approach to fighting trafficking in India, one of the most difficult and strategic locations to fight trafficking. It has a multi-discipline approach responsive to prosecution, rescue and rehabilitation. It also partners with governments to bring about long-term changes in policy and public service response. It established operations in Bangladesh in 2017.

The problem

The Global Slavery Index estimates that over 1.5 million people live in modern slavery in Bangladesh.1 Legislation exists to protect victims and prosecute traffickers but is poorly implemented, leading to low numbers of rescues, arrests and convictions.

In 2017, the government reported 778 trafficking cases and just one conviction. Failure to investigate crimes, falling convictions and poor provision of aftercare and rehabilitation services for victims led to Bangladesh being categorized in the 'Tier 2 Watch List Category' in the 2018 US TIP Report, indicating that the government doesn't yet meet the minimum standards for the eradication of trafficking.2

The solution

This program will work to prevent trafficking of some of the most vulnerable in Bangladesh, through a unique program of awareness training. The training will be delivered directly to garment factory workers, where traffickers are known to recruit, and to Border Guards Bangladesh, to identify and intercept trafficking victims before they cross the border.

In tandem, the program will support the safe and timely repatriation of 190 survivors from India to Bangladesh and equip them through skills training to rebuild their lives.

Survivors will receive a holistic package of care to ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community, and to prevent them from being re-trafficked. Also, Justice and Care will drive institutional change by organizing bilateral meetings between the Indian and Bangladeshi repatriation taskforces to improve cooperation and coordination. This will convene and train district level police forces and capture the voice of survivors to raise awareness and shape policy on human trafficking through the survivor perspective.

The evidence

This is a new approach in Bangladesh, but Justice and Care has a precedent for effective work in the context. Justice and Care established the Bangladesh team in 2017 and has already repatriated 115 survivors. This represents one third of all trafficking victims rehabilitated per year nationwide. They have built strong relationships with the Police and Border Security Force, and helped Khulna division police rescue 15 cross border trafficking victims as part of the first INGO –police partnership in the region.

During 2018, it piloted the training of Border Guards Bangladesh in identifying and intercepting trafficking victims. Among the divisions of police in Jessore that were trained, the number of trafficking victims intercepted went from zero the previous year to 77 following the training, of whom 33 were minors. The majority of these children turned out to be the subject of missing persons reports filed by their families in police stations across Bangladesh and without the training provided to the Border Guards Bangladesh they might never have been intercepted.

Justice and Care has also been invited to sit on the technical committee drafting the National Plan of Action for combating trafficking in persons in Bangladesh, allowing it to help drive systemic improvements in the national response to slavery and trafficking.

The Impact

  •  4,800 vulnerable women in Bangladesh reporting improved trafficking-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors
  • 450 of BGB reporting improved knowledge and confidence in identifying and appropriately supporting trafficking victims
  • 80 victims of trafficking leaving the at-risk category (i.e. safe and rehabilitated) by end year 3
  • Greater than 20 percent increase in number of children intercepted by Border Guards Bangladesh and referred as trafficking victims

Justice and Care works towards SDGs: