Poor women and children are most at risk from traffickers
A rights activist and Caritas have teamed up to work for the safe return of 24 women who were trafficked to Lebanon last year and allegedly sexually and physically abused while employed as domestic workers.
Rosaline Costa, coordinator of Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh, along with Caritas Lebanon have so far succeeded in repatriating one of the women, Rajeda Begum, who returned home last week.
Costa said this week that they were trying to repatriate the other 23 women currently being held by police or receiving care at a Caritas Lebanon shelter.
All were lured by an agent from a local recruiting agency with the promise of a high-end job in Lebanon.
Begum and the others flew to Beirut on August 27 last year and within a few days her family at home lost contact with her.
On 3 October she called home and told her family she had been taken to a house upon arrival at Lebanon but soon afterward was sexually assaulted and beaten up. She later managed to escape and went to the Lebanese police.
The police took her into protective custody and later placed her in the care of Caritas Lebanon.
Costa became involved when Begum’s husband approached her to help him get his wife home after his appeals to authorities fell on deaf ears, he said.
As for the other women, Costa said her organization hopes to repatriate them soon.
“I condemn those involved in such heinous crimes like human trafficking. We can’t tolerate criminals who trade human beings, exploiting their poverty and innocence. They must be prosecuted,” Costa said of the agencies that sent the women to Lebanon.
Rafique Enterprise, the Dhaka agency that recruited Begum, denied any involvement with trafficking when contacted, and accused Begum of being a thief.
“Rajeda Begum was sent to Lebanon and employed in due process. This woman is greedy and left her employer’s house after stealing valuables. After she was caught by the police she told this false story,” said Rafiquzzaman Khan, the owner.
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