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Homeland Security

Washington File

04 June 2003

U.S. Commends Bangladesh Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons

(Ambassador Peters speaks at anti-trafficking video film festival in
Dhaka) (1070)
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Mary Ann Peters said the United States
condemns trafficking in persons and remains firmly committed to
fighting this scourge. She also praised Bangladesh's commitment to
combating trafficking, noting that Bangladeshi law enforcement and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were working successfully
together to increase convictions for trafficking in Bangladesh.
Peters, speaking on June 2, was addressing the Anti-Trafficking Video
Film Festival in Dhaka, which celebrates a series of films -- both
documentary and dramatic -- that address the problem of trafficking in
persons.
"This festival's focus on films as a means to help address the
trafficking problem is very appropriate," Peters said. Both
documentaries and dramatic films "offer useful tools that will help us
to further spread the word about this social evil and renew our
determination to do something about it," she said.
Peters pointed out that the United States has provided $2.1 million to
Bangladesh since 1998 to fund national awareness-building efforts,
legal assistance, strengthening of an anti-trafficking network and
support to victims through Bangladeshi NGOs. These NGOs assisted with
the return of over 50 trafficked children, and in the arrest of 78
traffickers in 2002.
Following is the text of Ambassador Mary Ann Peters' remarks at the
Anti-Trafficking Video Film Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 2,
2003:
(begin text)
Remarks at the Anti-Trafficking Video Film Festival
Mary Ann Peters, Ambassador to Bangladesh
Dhaka, Bangladesh
June 2, 2003
Released by the U.S. Embassy Dhaka
Honorable Minister Khurshid Zahan Haque; Ms. Ferdous Ara Begum, Joint
Secretary, Distinguished Guests; Colleagues and Friends,
On behalf of the United States of America, it is a privilege for me to
participate in this opening ceremony of the Anti-trafficking Video
Film Festival. This festival celebrates a series of films that were
produced to address the trafficking problem using both documentary and
dramatic approaches.
At the outset, I would like to relate a typical trafficking story that
happens each day in South Asia and in fact, throughout much of the
world:
A local trafficker recruits Sangeeta, a fourteen-year old village
girl, to go with him to work as a domestic servant across the border.
To convince her to come along, he paints a picture of wealth and
prosperity that can be hers if she agrees to make the journey. After
being taken from her family, she is smuggled across the border and
sold to a brothel owner on the other side. There she is treated
brutally to break her spirit and force her compliance.
We need to focus on the human consequences of trafficking, and to once
and again highlight the many disturbing factors that make up each and
every trafficking event -- factors that often include fraud,
deception, violence, betrayal, and slavery in addition to the
exploitation that is usually associated with the word "trafficking".
None of us like to hear these stories but as hard as it is for us to
think about what happens, imagine how hard it must be for the young
girl who actually endures this abuse. As many of us know, human
trafficking is a social evil that is growing at an alarming rate
throughout the world. This practice results in unimaginable human
suffering and represents one of the most important human rights
problems of our time.
Each year throughout the world, millions of people suffer in silence
in slave-like situations as a result of human trafficking. On an
annual basis, it is estimated that more than 1 million women and
children worldwide are trafficked and sold for a variety of different
purposes including prostitution and forced labor. If one were to
calculate this number, it comes to nearly 3,000 victims per day.
Here in Bangladesh, as in other South Asian countries, the problem is
also very acute. It is estimated that up to 20,000 persons, or 50 per
day, are trafficked each year to major cities in India, Pakistan and
the Middle East.
The Government of Bangladesh has amply demonstrated its commitment to
combating trafficking. For example, in 2000, there were
The United States Government condemns trafficking in persons and
remains firmly committed to fighting this scourge and protecting the
victims who fall prey to traffickers.
To help end trafficking, the United States Government has provided
$2.1 million to Bangladesh since 1998 to fund national awareness
building efforts, legal assistance, strengthening of an
anti-trafficking network and support to victims through the Bangladesh
National Women s Lawyers Association (BNWLA) and Action Against
Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (ATSEC).
Over the past two years, these programs have begun to bear fruit. For
example, in 2002, BNWLA effected the return of 2 women and 20 children
from India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, released 2 women
and 34 children from internal trafficking and provided information
that helped the police arrest 78 traffickers.
This festival s focus on films as a means to help address the
trafficking problem is very appropriate. While any number of different
techniques can be used to sensitize people to the issue, films have
their own unique niche.
For example, documentaries on the subject help provide us with the
facts that we need to know about trafficking. They help us make sense
of the many complexities that relate to the problem. They offer a call
to action for us all to come together to tackle the issue; and they do
all of this by providing a clear message.
In contrast to this, dramatic films on the subject help us to develop
an understanding of the problem and empathy through the use of
lifelike characters that actually experience trafficking as the story
unfolds. This allows viewers to internalize the problem from not only
an intellectual level, but also from an emotional one.
Both approaches offer useful tools that will help us to further spread
the word about this social evil and renew our determination to do
something about it. I would especially like to thank the organizers,
ATSEC and the American Center, for planning and organizing this
important event.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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