Trafficking has emerged as one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violation of women and children. Trafficking of women and children has become a growing social and political concern not only globally but also nationally. The Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA) has been a pioneer in ensuring greater access to justice by disadvantaged women and children who are victims of trafficking.BNWLA has not only rescued 43 women and children so far, but also has provided the required recovery services. Out of those 43 trafficking victims,they have given shelter to 10 women and girls, and the rest of them have been handed over to their families, and a few of them have been referred to the government shelter homes after providing legal support.
BNWLA is rigorously conducting their rehabilitation and reintegration interventions through a holistic approach by providing the trafficked victims with comprehensive shelter package services (such as rescuing the trafficking victims from different forms of confinement, and ensuring their access to safe shelter homes as well as their long term social rehabilitation and reintegration, medical support, legal support, psychosocial counseling, capacity building and vocational training,alternative livelihood support, family identification, contacting parents, prosecutorial support during the conduct of court cases and others).
One unfortunate victim of trafficking is Azmeri Khan (not her real name), a daughter of aconstable, living in Vobanipur village of Vobanipurthana,under the district of Jolpaiguri, West Bengal, India. She has been rescued by BNWLA lately. On the day of the mishap, she went to a restaurant close to her madrasa (where she was studying in Class 6) to take her breakfast with a couple of her friends just like any other day. According to her, she suddenly lost her senses right after taking a cup of coffee in that restaurant. When she regained her senses, she found herself in the middle of a jungle. Little did she know that she was unknowingly brought in a country called Bangladesh where she had never been before. She got frightened and started crying out of fear. Someone from the locality came forward to rescue her and immediately took her to the local chairman.The chairman handed her over to the local police.
According to the statement of Azmeri, it is a clear case of trafficking. But the scenario turned out completely different, as a case was filed under Section-4 of the Control of Entry Act, 1952 (illegal entry to the country) against her by the police, though she was not in her senses while she entered Bangladesh.The provision of the Act treated her as a criminal since illegal entrance of any Indians to Bangladesh is a punishable offence. Due to the charges, she became a prey of derogation as well as harassment which violated her human rights, as she was kept in prison for six months from September 27, 2013 to March 14, 2014. With the incredible support of BNWLA’s panel lawyers, the case was finally disposed on May 27, 2014.
Azmeri has been staying in the shelter home run by BNWLAsince March 25, 2014.BNWLA is dealing with such anti-trafficking issues for a longer period of time with the direct support of CLS. On behalf of Azmeri, BNWLAis trying hard to identify her address and send her back home to India as soon as possible, though she is not only traumatized, but also severely reluctant to go back home. Considering her current state of her mind, BNWLA is providing her not only with psychosocial counseling, but also training on life skills to make her self-sufficient in the long run.