A Regional Consultation calling for convergence in action on mobility, migration and trafficking in children and adolescents between India and Bangladesh was held on the 14th of September 2011, at the LGED (Local Government Engineering Department) Conference Hall in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Regional Consultation at Dhaka gathered over 100 participants; the audience comprised members of the RRRI (Rescue, Rehabilitation, Repatriation and Integration) taskforce of both countries. The Indian RRRI taskforce was represented by Ravindra Patil, Deputy Commissioner of the RRRI taskforce, under the Women and Child Development ministry, Maharashtra. Dr.Kamal Uddin Ahmed, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and focal chairperson of the RRRI taskforce in Bangladesh was joined .
Dr.Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Affairs (Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh) was expressing the concerns of the Bangladesh government vis-à-vis the process of repatriation of Bangladeshi adolescents and children found in India as the chief guest of the convergence.
The consultation’s proceedings and discussions were centered on findings from two documents that were inaugurated by Dr.Mizanur Rehman, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission in Bangladesh. These documents have been developed by SANJOG, with assistance from Groupe Developpement, ECPAT Luxembourg, Air France, Oak Foundation, Ministry of External Affairs, Luxembourg and the European Commission.
The documents outlined certain key observations relating to the repatriation process of children and adolescents who migrate and/or are trafficked into India from Bangladesh. These observations are meant to draw the attention of policy makers to the following:
(i) That the present discourse on cross-border mobility, migration and trafficking in children and adolescents between India and Bangladesh, i.e. the SAARC Convention signed by the government of two countries is restricted to the domain of ‘trafficking in women and children ’ alone. Moreover, Article 1 (Definitions) of the Convention clearly defines “Persons subjected to trafficking” as “women and children victimized or forced into prostitution by the traffickers by deception, threat, coercion, kidnapping, sale, fraudulent marriage, child marriage, or any other unlawful means”. Not only is the vulnerability of girls and women who migrate for labor not recognized, boys are completely invisibilised through a non-acknowledgement of the phenomenon of cross-border mobility of boys between India and Bangladesh. The research Crossing Boundaries calls for the scope of this Convention to be broadened to include ‘migration’ and other forms of trafficking i.e. labour trafficking of boys and girls between India and Bangladesh.
(ii)) That the process of reintegration of children and adolescents in Bangladesh needs to be re- examined in order to broaden its understanding of effective reintegration. Currently the reintegration process focuses primarily on legal assistance. The film The Return draws the attention of viewers to the the stories of four “reintegrated” Bangladeshi girls; an insight into their thoughts and lives is provided through the documentary.