Satkhira, a south-western district in Bangladesh, is a disaster prone area. A high number of its residents in the district live below the poverty line. Moreover, this area is one of the major trafficking passages to India through the border.
Children are mostly trapped through early and fake marriages, and easily pushed to the neighboring country by traffickers - a blatant violation of human rights. In response to this, Sakibur Rahman emerged as a community child rights defender and a role model to his community by preventing child trafficking and intensifying awareness on gender based violence.
Sakibur dreams of a society, where children's rights will be recognized and protected. Due to poverty, illiteracy, and insecurity, the poor parents marry off their girl child much earlier, which causes the high rate of child marriage, which eventually often turns into child trafficking in his area. Sakibur has been working in the community to change the protracted perception that child marriage can save the status of a family and ensure girl’s safety.
Since March 2019, Sakibur has been participating in different meetings, awareness, and dialogue sessions organized by the “Prevention of Child Trafficking through Strengthening Community and Network” project of INCIDIN Bangladesh, a Terre des Hommes partner organisation. INCIDIN educates communities on the negative impact of child trafficking by working with Counter Trafficking Committees, Child Welfare Board, and engaging with local government agencies to prevent child trafficking.
With Sakibur’s membership in the District Legal Aid Committee and District Counter Trafficking Committee in Sathkhira, he plays an important role in raising awareness against child trafficking issues. In the past year, he participated in 18 events and educated 1340 people on child marriage, child trafficking, and gender based-violence issues.
Sakibur played a role in preventing a series of child trafficking as recently as August 2020. As the government slightly reduced the restriction of social gathering arising out of COVID-19 crisis, child traffickers became active again. Sakibur was informed that a marriage has been fixed for a bride who is only 13 years of age in his neighbourhood. Immediately, he rushed and talked with the parents to stop the marriage. Persuaded relentlessly, the parents agreed not to proceed. However, after only two days, Sakibur came to know that the child had been secretly married off. He again went to the neighbour’s house and the parents confessed that they did it as COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated their financial hardship. They also received some money from the bridegroom for this marriage.
Hearing all of these, he instantly went to the bridegroom's house and found nobody. Sakibur realized that those people were traffickers. As done elsewhere, they simply took the opportunity of the family’s poverty by participating in a fake marriage. With the assistance of the local police station, he went to search for the girl and was informed that she was taken to the border area of India. Finally, on 18 August, Sakibur’s team with the help of local police rescued the girl from an abandoned house to be reunited with her parents.
In recent months, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sakibur has taken more actions to stop child marriage and trafficking in his locality by informing everyone about hotline numbers such as 109 of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and 1098 of the Ministry of Social Welfare. With support from INCIDIN Bangladesh, he has been involving himself with awareness raising activities and awareness campaigns to broaden knowledge and information at the community level, which are important to prevent child trafficking.
“We are always getting support in terms of knowledge and resources to prevent child and human trafficking from INCIDIN Bangladesh, with the the support of Terre des Hommes Netherlands. We are aware and informed of our roles as the change makers and child rights defenders in the community for the betterment and safety of children and women”, said Sakibur.