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Advocacy Program to Combat Trafficking in Women and Children

Advocacy Program to Combat Trafficking in Women and Children at the local, national and regional level with the financial assistance of The Asia Foundation was initiated from March 1997 to 1998. At the commencement of the advocacy campaigns, CWCS undertook an initiative aimed at building two networks of NGOs in Bangladesh and South Asia. CWCS successfully launched two networks to combat trafficking in women and children at the national and regional levels namely Traffic Watch Bangladesh (TWB) – a network of national and grassroots level organizations and Traffic Watch South Asia (TWSA) – a South Asian network of member organizations.

Campaigns and advocacy programs with local government agencies, NGOs, community leaders, police, journalists, teachers, doctors, lawyers, parents, guardians, adolescents, children and particularly with the community people at the grassroots level were undertaken in partnershp with the TWB network members. The programs were mainly awareness raising workshops at thana level with community people, doctors, teachers, journalists, political leaders, religious leaders and law enforcing agencies throughout Bangladesh, especially in the traffic prone areas of the bordering districts.

CWCS organized a Fact-finding Meeting on 23 May 1997 followed by the National Workshop on Trafficking in Women and Children from May 24-25, 1997 to carry on the advocacy strategy to combat trafficking in women and children. In the Fact-finding Meeting, national and grassroots level NGOs discussed their areas of concern vis-Ã -vis this issue in Bangladesh. Participants developed IEC materials namely booklet for community, flyer for children, posters, leaflets and stickers with anti- trafficking messages. A Memorandum was also prepared to be given to the concerned ministries to take necessary action on the issue of trafficking in women and children and it was endorsed by 36 national and grassroots level organizations of the network.

As part of the advocacy programme of CWCS, Awareness Raising Workshop and Dialogues were organized in collaboration with the TWB member organizations. CWCS has organized 15 thana level two-day campaign workshops in traffic-prone areas of the country with the collaboration of TWB member organizations. The Awareness Raising Campaign Workshops aim to bring together relevant persons working at the thana administrative units, professionals and NGOs who are committed to combat trafficking in their areas.

At the national level, CWCS organized a one-day Dialogue with the Journalists on Combating Trafficking in Women and Children: Role of Media in Creating Awareness on June 14, 1997 in Dhaka. At the grassroots level, a one-day Dialogue with the Journalists at Comilla was organized in collaboration with PAGE Development Centre, Comilla on 12 August, 1997. Two one-day Dialogue with the Police Officials at Jessore and Kushtia were subsequently held on 9 and 10 September 1997 to aware the police and share their experiences of trafficking cases.

Lessons Learnt

Advocacy to combat trafficking which mainly takes place in the rural areas can be very effective when it is carried out in partnership with grassroots level organizations were they become aware of the grave problem and work towards preventing it. The network has increased in number and many NGOs have been motivated on work together to combat trafficking in women and children in their own areas.