After Bangladesh PM's cook's daughter, 60 flesh trade victims head home

Repatriation of daughter of cook at Shaikh Hasina's residence opens door for other Bangladeshi victims of human trafficking rescued from brothels in state, who are waiting to go back home 
Of the 125 Bangladeshi girls rescued from brothels in the state in the last four years, the fortunes of over 60 have changed -- while 27 have already been repatriated, 35 more will soon be. The change in their lot -- and in the administrative mindset -- is owed to the repatriation of the Bangladesh PM's cook's daughter, who was among the women rescued and those so far repatriated.

Setting a precedent: Khushi (name changed) was one of the 27 girls
who was sent back home to Bangladesh. File pic

In November 2011, defying pressure from authorities, Mumbai-based NGO Rescue Foundation refused to send back 21-year-old flesh trade victim Khushi (name changed), Shaikh Hasina's cook's daughter, unless the authorities agreed to send home all 125 victims in the NGO's patronage, who'd been waiting to go home for four years.

Standing firm Despite an NOC issued by a special court in Mazgaon in November 2011 to hand over Khushi to the Bangladeshi government, Acharya put her foot down. MiD DAY had first reported about the face-off on November 21, 2011 ('NGO won't send back only Bangla PM's cook's daughter').

In December, Bangladesh relented and agreed to allow back 26 other girls along with Khushi, and promised that it would work for the repatriation of the remaining. "The pressure on the Bangladesh High Commission has finally yielded results. In December 2011, along with Khushi, they accepted the repatriation requests of 26 other girls, referring to each of them as a special case. All of them lacked nationality proof," said Triveni Acharya of Rescue Foundation.

In less than a month after that, the NGO received another request from Bangladeshi authorities to arrange the documents for repatriation of 35 more girls staying at its shelter home.

No nationality proof "All these girls are illegal migrants and they did not have any nationality proof. The Bangladesh High Commission had restricted their entry into Bangladesh, but they can go home now," Acharya said. Of the 35 who are here but have been welcomed back home now, Acharya said, "Though the girls are more than happy and are waiting to go back home, at present, they are enrolled in various courses which are likely to get over in the next couple of weeks. Also, there are some girls who need to undergo certain surgeries. As soon as they are done with it, we will send them back." 

Ravi Patil, deputy commissioner, state Women and Child Welfare Department said, "The Bangladeshi High Commission's response towards repatriation of rescued girls has improved over a period of time. Our task force formed in 2010 has also played a major role."

Deportation woes
Till 2007, the officials involved in the rescue operation of Bangladeshi nationals used to deport the girls by handing over their custody to the Border Security Force. Due to problems of women trafficking in the existing deportation process, officials in both countries came up with the idea of a treaty agreement. Though the terms were set, the treaty was not inked because Bangladesh had a caretaking government at the time.

Following the agreement, the 27 rescued girls from the Rescue Foundation shelter were referred to the Home Ministry in Delhi, which then informed the Interpol to send a request to the Bangladesh High Commission for repatriation.

The High Commission referred such cases to the Social Welfare Ministry to verify the nationality of the girls and file a report. Once the entire process was cleared, the high commission dispatched a travel visa to the Home Ministry for repatriation.

Till the NGO intervened in Khushi's deportation, Bangladeshi government paid no heed to the others languishing in the city. 

As a result, more than 125 Bangladeshis rescued from brothels across the city continued to stay in the shelter home.

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