Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Thousands of women trafficked into Syria and the Middle East; husbands and in-laws who sell their wives and daughters to increase family profits; victims seduced by the promise of good jobs but then forced into prostitution; traffickers who use Indian cities as sorting centers for victims.
This is the picture of a phenomenon, the exploitation of women and girls in prostitution and illegal labor, which is becoming increasingly widespread in South Asia.
Rosaline Costa, Catholic activist, spoke to AsiaNews about the roots of it: "As long as women are not recognized as having the same value and respect as equal human beings within the family, society, the state or the workplace; as long as there is the chauvinist mentality that considers women the object of man's pleasure or a source of income for the family, these crimes will not cease. "
Human trafficking also involves the political world. Recently the best-known case is the one that involved two Nepalese women, saved in India from the abuse of a Saudi diplomat. Mina Roy (not her real name), a girl of 22, told AsiaNews: "I was trafficked to the Middle East in 2013. I wanted to go abroad to earn more money and have a better life, but I did not know that I would be sold . I was forced to be prostitute. I cried every day in silence and in the end I was saved by a group of activists. "
A study by The New Indian Express reports that every year thousands of women from Bangladesh, India and Nepal are sold as sex slaves in the Middle East and in the areas occupied by militants of the Islamic State in Syria.
Traffickers use the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta in India as a place of transit to target victims. For those from Bangladesh, the sorting city is Guwahati (State of Assam) and in the last weeks the Indian authorities rescued about 60 girls in the Rangiya train station of (Assam).
According Rosaline Costa, coordinator of the association Hotline Human Rights Trust, which monitors respect for human rights in Bangladesh, the reasons for the growing human trafficking are as follows: the most common is poverty in rural areas, but also a deep-rooted sexist mentality, witnessed by the "greed" of husbands and in-laws, who sell women and children when the family of origin does not continue to meet their economic demands.
The Catholic activist explains: "Bangladesh is a poor country with a large population. The rural poor want to survive and seek a way to do it everywhere, accepting any kind of proposal that is offered to them by the traffickers, without knowing where they are going. "
According to Costa, people ignore the phenomenon of human trafficking, and worst, "women are not considered an economic resource for the family, but rather a means on which to earn money, especially with the dowry custom. The parents of the girls bear enormous efforts to pay their dowries at marriage, but then fail to meet additional requests from the new family. So if it happens the opportunity to sell their wives or their daughters in exchange for money or a good job, their husbands and in-laws waste no time in contacting traffickers".
She believes that in the country there are no suitable laws for the effective protection of victims. "The exploiters – she reports - often have ties to the police, the politicians, the administration, and go unpunished if they are arrested. In this way they are encouraged to commit such crimes. "
The coordinator of the NGO blames the "macho mentality" present in Bangladesh. "Girls and women must be accepted with the same dignity, honor and respect as men and boys. This change of mentality can be implemented through education. Schools, colleges and universities should have courses which value the equality between men and women, so that children learn from an early age to accept the companions of the opposite sex as human beings equal to themselves”.
Costa suggests the government strengthen existing laws on the protection of human rights, but also use the media to push the population to recognize the value and the dignity of women. The Church can do a lot: "The Church could use the pulpit to generate awareness of the consequences of such crimes. You could create centers for the physical and psychological rehabilitation of the victims, which also provide legal support. "
In conclusion she calls for greater collaboration with the Christian community in which she lives. "That way you would accomplish the example of the life of Christ, who sacrificed himself for the good of the world."