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‘Women, children get trapped on social media by traffickers’

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 27 January, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news
‘Women, children get trapped on social media by traffickers’

The number of women and children getting trapped on different social media platforms by the human traffickers is increasing significantly.

These are the major outcomes of the UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2022.

Under “The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Bangladesh (GLO.ACT– Bangladesh)” project, which is implemented by UNODC and IOM, the report was launched in Bangladesh on Thursday.

According to the report, human traffickers are not only involved in sexual exploitation, but are also involved in human body organ trafficking. In addition, climate change and Covid-19 as well as the recession caused by the Russia-Ukraine war put the poor at risk of human trafficking.

The number of convictions for trafficking offences globally fell by 27 percent in 2020 from the previous year – with sharper decrease registered in South Asia (56 percent), while the number of victims detected globally fell by 11 percent in 2020 from the previous year, driven by less detection in low-and medium-income countries, the report said.

Fewer cases of trafficking for sexual exploitation were detected during the pandemic as public spaces were closed, and related restrictions may have pushed this form of trafficking into more concealed and less safe locations, making it harder to identify victims.

The pandemic has increased vulnerabilities to trafficking in persons, further undercutting capacities to rescue victims and bring criminals to justice, according to the report.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) organised a discussion on the trafficking situation in Bangladesh at a hotel in the capital. It is to be mentioned that the global report was released from Vienna last Tuesday.

Joining the launching programme, Senior Secretary of the home ministry, Md Aminul Islam Khan, said human trafficking is a cross-border problem and therefore, there is no alternative to a concerted effort to solve such a complex crisis.

“The emerging effect of COVID 19 and climate change on human trafficking trends and pattern is alarming. I urge our national and international partners to prioritise strengthening capacities to identify trafficking in persons and focus on creating a victim-friendly criminal justice system,” the senior government official said.

Regional representative of UNODC Regional Office for South Asia Marco Teixeira said the Global Report mentions the risks linked with cyber enabled trafficking which was widely used by traffickers during the pandemic.

He said, “While human traffickers are becoming more tech-savvy and are able to use technology successfully to their advantage, technology can also become an enhancing tool for the criminal justice system to detect, investigate and prosecute traffickers.”

UN resident coordinator in Bangladesh, Gwyn Lewis, said, “We must redouble our efforts to seriously and effectively address poverty and systemic inequalities with sustainable, inclusive responses. Those we leave behind are those we surrender to traffickers.”

Global coordinator of GLO.ACT at UNODC HQ in Vienna Aimée Comrie, joint secretary of home ministry Mizanur Rahman, and national programme coordinator of UNODC Mahdy Hassan shared the methodology, key findings and policy recommendations of the report at the launch event.

IOM Bangladesh’s chief of Mission AbdusattorE soev, head of cooperation at delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Maurizio Cian, Counsellor (Political and Public Affairs) at the high commission of Canada in Bangladesh Bradley Coates, director general (UN) of the foreign ministry Toufiq Islam Shatil, and GLO.ACT programme management officer at UNODC Eurídice Márquez, among others, participated in the discussion chaired by additional secretary of public security division at the home ministry and project director for GLO.ACT-Bangladesh Khairul Alam Shiekh.