It is well documented that Bangladesh is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and child victims of human trafficking. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown imposed by the Government of Bangladesh in April 2020 has had diverse impacts on people’s vulnerability to human trafficking, including migrants in and from Bangladesh. Whilst there is no published research on the impact of COVID-19 on human trafficking in Bangladesh, the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Technical Working Group (CTIP-TWG) has continued to work since the onset of the pandemic and based on firsthand experience reviewed how the pandemic is affecting the counter-trafficking landscape.
Loss of employment, reductions in income, limited means of securing livelihood and nationwide school closures have created conditions that amplify the risks of trafficking. In addition to root causes of human trafficking reportedly intensifying, it is feared that Bangladesh has experienced an increase in forms of abuse and exploitation, with traffickers rapidly adjusting to the changing landscape. Recent observed trends and media headlines suggests that the traffickers are using the online platform like TikTok, WhatsApp etc. to lure the potential victims of human trafficking.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, Bangladesh remains on Tier Two in the US TIP Report 2021. However, the following recommendations were listed: a. need multi-sectoral partnership in implementation of the National Plan of Action (2018-2022) to Combat Human Trafficking (NPA); b. prosecute human traffickers and deliver justice; c. make the National Anti-Human-Trafficking Authority functional; d. promote safe migration regardless of migration status; e. activate Counter-Trafficking Committees (CTCs) and local elected bodies at the grassroot level; f. Enhance focus on opportunities and obligations under international human rights, criminal justice and labor rights standards; and g. ensure the Protection for migrants including victims of trafficking (identification, referral and service provision.
This year’s theme of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way” puts victims of human trafficking at the centre of the campaign and highlights the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. The webinar will share the key messages from the survivors of the human trafficking.

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