Date: Sun, 18 Oct 98 01:20:06 CDT
From: (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: HUMAN RIGHTS: Roots of Traffic in Asian Women
Article: 45596
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <>

/** headlines: 140.0 **/
** Topic: HUMAN RIGHTS: Roots of Traffic in Asian Women **
** Written 11:27 AM Oct 16, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 11:05 AM Oct 13, 1998 by in */
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/* Written 9:52 PM Oct 8, 1998 by in igc:reg.burma */
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AIDS and poverty spur child traffic in Bangladesh

By Nadeem Qadir, Agence france presse, Asian Age, 9 October 1998

Dhaka, Oct. 8: AIDS and poverty have pawned a growth industry in human trafficking in South Asia with children the major target because they are mostly poor and considered free of sexual disease, experts say.

“In the wake of the Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome epidemic, younger girls and children are being sought in the belief that they are less likely to be infected,” according to a new report, Child Trafficking: The Underlying Dynamic s.

The findings, released this week, come after six months' research by Ishrat Shamim and Farah Kabir of the Dhaka-based Centre for Women and Children Studies, The Study Found that in the past seven years it least 2,600 Bangladeshi children, mostly girls, were abducted and never returned, Most ended up in brothels or never returned home after being raped because of fears of social alienation.

Children aged between six and 15 years suffered sexual abuse, and some had died either from physical or sexual abuse, and some had died either from physical or sexual torture or during the journey from their homes, said the study, released to coincide with the landmark Asia-Europe summit in London.

“Poverty is a major problem as those involved in human trafficking lure the parents or children by offering lucrative employment abroad,” Ms Shahnaz Begum, a journalist and researcher, said. The report added: “the underlying major cause is poverty, which in turn compels families to migrate and its worst consequences fall on children. Poverty and exploitation combine to make girls and women cheap commodities,” it said. Ms Begum said the problem could be tackled, but needed political commitment.

The CWCS has called for the formation of an integrated national policy, which would include an attack on the causes of poverty in Bangladesh.

This week the government formed a task force to stop the trade in child trafficking, but experts said unless agencies involved were strengthened, efforts to curb the industry would be “extremely difficult.” Those arrested for trafficking are punishable under Bangladesh's tough Children and Women Repression Law, under which a maximum 10-year jail term can be given.

A proposal to introduce the death sentence for the trade in still under consideration after protests from human rights groups. “We should also find out if all the cases reported are trafficking or not as some go willingly, while others are forced,” Ms Begum said, relating her own research. She said there were Biharis and Burmese Muslim refugees called Rohingyas, who willingly offer to leave Bangladesh.

“I interviewed children caught b y security personnel and many were angry for bringing them back—some really looked forward to a good life or a new life,” Ms Begum said. She and other social workers here said girls faced real problems on their return as they faced social isolation, even by their families. “One father refused to accept her daughter brought back from India, saying that it would cause problems in getting his two other daughters married,” Ms Begum added.

The CWCS said of all the children lost during the period it studied, 96 per cent were girls and there had been a rise in trafficking and sexual abuse. The police rescued 42 Burmese women and children in separate raids in Dhaka this week and arrested 14 people on charge of trying to smuggle then to West Asia, where they had been promised attractive jobs, officials said.

Experts said organised gangs worked through agents, who approached poor girls and children with lucrative job offers abroad. The agents paid from several thousand takas to more than $2,000 depending on the child's market value in terms of age or looks. The police said some 15,000 women and children are smuggled out of Bangladesh every year. Most of them end up in brothels or in virtual slavery as domestic workers.(AFP)