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Programs

Stopping Trafficking in Persons in Bangladesh

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, during the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of child trafficking had increased - 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 in the country.

Background

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 Committees (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, opportunities to meet and support victims face to face have been 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.

Approach

The programme will establish the following;

  • a one-stop digital service centre for the reporting and referral of sex and labour trafficking that will include a project team of Psychosocial Counselors and IT Specialists to provide in-person and remote consultations for local Counter-Trafficking Committees (CTCs) to identify and refer victims of trafficking. 
  • training of 600 service providers (CTC members, NGOs, school teachers, and other anti-trafficking stakeholders) to use new online and mobile tools, including how to refer and report trafficking cases. 
  • Terre des Hommes Netherlands and the TIP Office are working closely with USAID and the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka to refine project activities and reduce duplication of efforts, including shifting resources from an additional TIP hotline to a mobile communication-based voice messaging campaign that will inform communities about the existing mobile hotlines/helplines and motivate the TIP victims to dial the existing lines for support.  

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.

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