Bangladeshi women trafficked to Syria as maids, sex slaves

Two women head to work in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Tomas Munita/The New York Times)

Bangladeshi police report they have investigated at least 45 cases in which women from Bangladesh were trafficked to war-torn Syria, where they were exploited, beaten, tortured, or raped, Reuters said. The women were lured with the promise of better work, but forced to serve as domestics or sex slaves.

“It started with one woman called Shahinoor who escaped from her captors in Syria. She called her mother who complained to us,” Commander Khadaker Golam Sarowar told Thomson Reuters Foundation this week. “Shahinoor was supposed to go to Lebanon. Instead she was taken to Dubai with five other women, and then onto to Syria where she was sold to different people — sometimes to work as a maid, sometimes for sex. She told us there were others.”

The 34-year-old woman is now in Dhaka, being treated for a kidney illness after she was discovered to be “extremely sick and unable to move.” Eight people have been arrested for their involvement, though traffickers in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have not been identified yet.

Forced labor is common in such Gulf states, especially for women, who sometimes migrate willingly but find themselves forced to work when faced with expensive recruitment fees that they are forced to repay. “They are innocent, uneducated women who come from the villages. They do not know anything about Syria and what is happening there. They think they are going to Lebanon or Jordan for a good life,” Sarowar said.

Read the full story at Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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