Human trafficking and loathsome life abroad
Friday, 20 June 2008

There are no reliable statistics of how many of our own people are working abroad. The figure that is usually mentioned in table talks is close to four million. On the average fifty women are trafficked across the border daily and 45 of them end up in the red light areas. There are some 400,000 Bangladeshi girls in Indian brothels and 40,000 in Pakistan. In addition to these about 300,000 Bangladeshi boys are also in India engaged in slave labor or flesh trade in Middle East, Malaysia, South Korea, Europe and many other countries. We always talk about the huge amounts these people send back home but seldom do we talk about the types of jobs these people are doing there. Yes, there was a time when some oil rich countries of the ME needed workers but today’s situation is different. There are jobs that people of those countries don’t want to do. It is plain and simple harsh physical labor and often dirty type. These are not much different flesh trade. So, they import workers from abroad. Recruiting agencies in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country just cannot cope with the rush. That’s because employment opportunities are almost non-existent in the country. The lure of good income is also a factor. What we would like to emphasize is that people know what kind of life awaits them abroad but still they go because the alternative is starvation. We cannot ensure minimum requirements for survival. Not far away is our flourishing garments sector. This sector employs about three million workers, mostly women. The compensation they are paid is almost a joke, especially these days when one kilo of rice costs more than Tk 30. It’s the very low wages that make the garment factories profitable. Workers at home and abroad and women in foreign brothels are all due to lack of employment opportunities at home. Whether we like it or not this is our reality and big talks of GDP growth, per capita income. More often than not these economic terms are used to divert people’s attention from these ground realities. Humiliating, we must say. But this is only one side of the overall picture that is Bangladesh.

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