There are an estimated 592,000 people living in modern slavery in Bangladesh (GSI 2018). Men, women and children are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Bangladesh is host to more than 1 million undocumented Rohingya, including hundreds of thousands who fled Burma in previous decades. The Rohingya community’s stateless status and inability to work legally increases their vulnerability to human trafficking. Rohingya women and girls are reportedly recruited from refugee camps for domestic work and are instead subjected to sex trafficking. Within the country, Bangladeshi children and adults are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, and forced and bonded labour, in which traffickers exploit an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the employment terms.
Mumtaz was brought to Watgoni by her husband, a man from Comilla. Her husband used to work at the Watgoni dockyard where a large brothel attended to the needs of sailors and dockers. He lost his job and a few months later brought Mumtaz and engaged her in sex work. It took Mumtaz 7 years to be able to get away from her husband’s control and tyranny. A friend helped her move out of Watgonj and settle in Tallygonj. She has been working with the DMSC since 1993.
When she saw me, his khala advised me to flee but I did not know how to go back to Bangladesh. I stayed with him. He took all my income for seven years. He was a violent man and I feared him. Within one year, my husband brought two more wives from Bangladesh and engaged them in sex work also.
Narrative located in the report ‘Beyond Boundaries: A Critical Look at Women Labour Migration and the Trafficking Within’ by Thérèse Blanchet provided courtesy of The Child Protection Hub