Trafficking and Child Marriage
Trafficking and the sex trade
Young girls are easy prey.
The sex industry in Bangladesh employs 100,000 women and girls, according to government estimates. One study suggests that an alarming 90% of these women were trafficked at a young age and forced into the sex trade against their will. Trafficking is extremely lucrative, and while the sex industry itself is legal, the law is not on the side of exploited women. The Dhaka Tribune recently reported that more than 6,000 people have been arrested for human trafficking since 2013, yet just 25 have been convicted.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, more children are being forced out of their homes and schools and into the streets because of the pandemic. Millions of students have lost access to education, shelter, and nutritious food. The need to survive has made them easy prey for traffickers, who are now more active than ever.
A growing trend during COVID
Sadly, the exploitation of children is not always confined to criminals and traffickers. Families are experiencing great hardship paying for food, and arranged marriages have emerged as a way to acquire the funds needed for survival.
In Bangladesh, marriage is illegal for girls under the age of 18; however, it’s now being permitted under ‘special circumstances,’ with consent from the parents or guardians. The United Nations estimates that the special circumstances created by COVID-19 will allow Bangladeshis to continue bending the law for years, with 13 million additional child marriages expected by 2030/