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Human Trafficking in Bangladesh: How it Happens and Efforts to Prevent it

By: Luis Gay

Edited by: Juliana Zhu, Esq.

Nazrul Islam is the Bangladesh Country Director for Relief International (RI), a U.S.-based international non-government organization that provides development services to more than 20 countries. Under his leadership, RI is aiding in combating human trafficking and promoting safe migration through the Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking in Bangladesh project. In an interview with Sakina Huq from Law Desk, Islam answers questions about issues on human trafficking in Bangladesh.

When asked about the process of trafficking, Islam responded that it is a lengthy and complicated process required by an organized group of people. Victims, usually from rural areas of Bangladesh, are first led to believe that they will receive job opportunities and better income from traffickers, brokers, and agents. Often, these same traffickers and brokers are close relatives, such as uncles, cousins, and even respected elders. Once victims reach a border area, they are handed over to different groups, with the help of law enforcement agencies and politically influential groups, in exchange for bribes. Countries that receive people trafficked from Bangladesh are mainly located in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia.

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Islam explained that there are two factors that contribute to illegal migration. One is the “push factor” where, as mentioned before, people believe they will seek better opportunity and hope for a better life. For example, women who are discriminated against, have little power at home, or are exploited often fall prey to the temptations presented by human traffickers. The second factor is the “pull factor” in which traffickers take advantage of a country’s weak government laws/enforcement. When push and pull come together, traffickers make thousands of dollars through selling people for sex, organs, and labor.

However, there is hope to ending trafficking in Bangladesh. Islam proclaimed that the country recently enacted an anti-trafficking law called the Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act of 2012. Currently, the only assistance that Bangladeshi government provides for rescue victims is through the Ministry of Foreign and Home Affairs. However, under this law, the Bangladeshi government is required to provide support for human trafficking victims. The implementation of the act is still in process, but the government will build shelters and protective homes once it is.

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Some national and international NGOs are assisting with rehabilitation efforts in Bangladesh as well by providing psychological, medical, and legal help. One such is an RI, who has helped over 700 trafficking victims as of January 2015 through their Protecting Victims of Human Trafficking in Bangladesh project. Through social media, print, and radio stations, the project also raises awareness on the developing Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act of 2012, human trafficking, and safe migration. Hopefully, if the general public becomes aware of the harsh reality of human trafficking, then more people will be able to contribute to fight to eliminate it. Fighting doesn’t necessarily mean directly going to a country and rescuing someone. Things as simple as noting signs of abuse, promoting a trafficking organization’s cause, or giving someone a number to a hotline could very much be the reason you save someone’s life.


Luis Gay is a sophomore attending the University of San Francisco, pursuing a Biology degree and Biochemistry Minor. He is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.



The Daily Star Staff. 7July2015. “Implementation Of Law can prevent human trafficking”. The Daily Star. [Accessed 24 July 2015]

Photo Credit:

This picture can be found the Relief International Website.


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