Combating trafficking has been an objective for many international and local organisations in Bangladesh. To stop exploitation of children, many hotlines and services had been developed to provide the necessary prevention and support. However, these services had been working independently or had been duplicating their efforts. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic had increased cases of child trafficking - making it harder for social workers to help. As a response, the U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Office (TIP) and Terre des Hommes Netherlands, formally launched a programme to combat the increase of sex and labour trafficking caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
As the pandemic progresses, the trend in human trafficking continues to worsen, and the damage to systems for assistance and identification of trafficking victims becomes increasingly apparent. Referral mechanisms, which are essential for identification of victims and their access to rights, are impacted (UNODC). In Bangladesh, Counter-Trafficking Committee (CTCs) are used to identify victims at the grassroots level, assist with reporting, and referral to social and legal services. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, their opportunity to meet and support victims face to face has reduced. CTCs do not have offices, computers, IT systems, or online skills to help victims online. As a result, the victims of trafficking remain unidentified and do not have access to the assistance they need.
The programme will establish the following;
The project will also be implemented through Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ local partner organisations (Viamo and INCIDIN Bangladesh). Officially launching on 1 December 2021, the programme will aim to support over two thousand victims and at-risk children and young men and women over the course of 2 years in Keraniganj Upazila, Dhaka district, Bangladesh.