“Ending Sexual Exploitation of Children in Bangladesh” Project
Supported by: Freedom Fund
Implemented by : Ashar Alo Society & Partner – Sex workers Network
Figure 1: Executive Committee Meeting
- REPORT ON: Executive Committee Meeting-2023
Date: 12 June, 2023
Venue: UST Training & Resource Center
Ashar Alo Society is community based organization working since 2000 and implementing this project by the sub partner named Sex Workers Net Workers (SWN). It is a networking organization working for the well-being of the sex workers, their family members as well as their children, aiming to promote and protect their human rights in Bangladesh. It is registered with the Department of Social Services’. It is a national platform of the 29 Sex workers organizations existing all over the country. The network is committed to establish the basic human rights of Sex workers and their children and protect them from oppression and exploitation because all sex workers and their children of Bangladesh are discriminated and stigmatized because of their occupation. Often the female children of the sex workers are brought to the profession to reduce the burden by their close family members. They are also vulnerable to violence and sexual exploitation which creates trauma. Through the EC meetings the sex workers member will have increased knowledge on their children’s protection, specially they will be more aware on addressing commercial sexual abuse and exploitation of children (CSEC) so that they can at least know about their roles and responsibilities to address it in their working locations. As per plan, SWN is going to organize an EC meeting on 12 June 2023 under the Freedom Fund project.
Objectives of the meeting:
- To assess the capacity of the Sex Workers Network to prevent and respond to
- To provide updates of the existing projects/advocacy and take their available guidance for smooth implementation of the
- To share the plan for scaleup project and receive their guidance in design and target
- To inform about the importance of counselling and existing counselling
- To discuss about the progress, challenges, and way forward of the organization/network for managing network activities properly under new
- To ensure the EC members support, for doing advocacy with relevant stakeholders to ensure the Birth Registration Certificate and
- To inform about the Safeguarding issues, the accountability mechanism of the
- Members capacity is assessed by providing information on CSEC and will ensure their support in reporting and responding when they find any children in this business.
- Members knew about the FF project and provided their guidance for ensuring direct
support. Also, they are informed about the plan of scaling up the project and contributed to target setting and design.
- Members realized about the importance of counseling support and when they feel the need to take this support, they promised to inform the PM to receive this.
- Reduced the conflict among the members by receiving transparent, appropriate information and will work as a team for achieving common
With the welcome speech Ms. Nilufa inaugurated the EC meeting. In her speech, she congratulated all for participating in the EC meeting and thanked the Freedom Fund for their financial and continuous program support and direction of network activities. She also stressed on importance of implementing planned activities and organizing sex workers for the greater benefit. The network secretary requested to Program Manager (PM) Shafia Arifin to present the PPT in the meeting for updating activity of Freedom fund and other partners.
Subsequently, the Representative from the Freedom Fund, Khaleda Akhter discussed on the ongoing activities and the possibilities of scaling up the program of Freedom Fund. She facilitated a brief discussion in the meeting about the ongoing project and shared how the next project will be carried out with the EC members.
Figure 2: Executive Committee Meeting
Bangladesh Program Advisor also discussed about the priority activities with the children of sex workers, minor sex workers and survivors in the coming years.
Irin Pervin Tamanna, Psychosocial Counselor of Breaking the Silence, presented a presentation on counselling in the meeting. She stressed on the necessity of counseling and the benefits.
Realizing the potential and effectiveness, the members requested to continue the counseling system outside of Dhaka as well. As it is a very effective initiative for the sex workers, they thanked Freedom Fund for taking this initiative. After this session most of the members requested PM to arrange the counselling session for them.
Kajol Begum , Vice President of SWN said, sex worker cannot do anything without national ID card, if they go to hospital for services, hospital authority asks for NID but many sex workers have no NID because of lack of residency in Dhaka as well as other parts of Bangladesh.
The Program Manager, Shafia Arifin drew attention of all members of EC on the issue of birth registration and obtaining NID and birth registration. She said this is not possible without collective efforts or advocacy. Everyone provided their opinion on this and the President and General Secretary were requested to form a team and appoint the person in charge as soon as possible. A detailed advocacy plan has been shared which identified the role and responsibilities of the EC members for implementing the plan effectively.
This is the first time the FF Representative participated in this meeting and requested to the President, Vice president and Secretary to follow the following agendas while organizing the meeting.
- Update on new/existing projects
- Capacity building of the members and CBO leaders
- Communication and coordination
With their permission she discussed on each agenda and took their views and decisions. All the members have liked this process and all of them said that this is the first time they have finished the meeting without any conflict.
Decisions and action:
Most of the EC members as well as CBOs don’t have email ID, they don’t have computer, wifi connection etc. For this reason, it is very difficult for the network to communicate to share important information, decisions through email. Most of the time they do verbal communication, and which creates miscommunication and conflict among the members. For avoiding these issues, it has been decided that a SMS messaging group will be opened by the PM of FF project by next week and President, Secretary and Vice President and other team EC members will use this SMS messaging for sharing any important updates, decision and other information which is important for the network to avoid conflict, back biting and miscommunication.
As per the constitution, a caution notice will be sent to the members by the President by next week if any member does not attend three consecutive Executive meetings.
All CBO leaders will provide the list of their trustee committee members and will update their organizational profile so that the secretary can monitor their organization, know the source of funds and assess their capacity. For doing this, the network has very little amount of fund in their mothers account that’s why all the members have decided to start requesting to their donors to support them.
Network will share the financial updates on each project by the respective Finance Officer. Network mothers account update will be provided by the President and the Finance Officer for avoiding miscommunication and unnecessary conflict. In each meeting, all the members will discuss about the financial procedure and challenges and try to overcome these together with the support of finance TA.
All members will receive finance related training mentioned in the DD plan. All the members will receive orientation/training on all the policies according to the DD plan.
Members are very happy to know that FF are trying to protect them with the social protection services. Some of the members have shared their existing relationship with the government which is very encouraging. They all agreed to provide support to the President and PM of the FF project to implement advocacy related work.
It has been decided that President and General Secretary will assist the PM to provide NID and Birth Registration certificate. Vice president agreed to join in all-advocacy events and requested to inform her.
Update existing and new program:
In the next meeting they will present the updates on other projects.EC members will participate in designing FF scaleup project. President and PM will invite them through SMS messaging. Next meeting members will come with an update on minor sex workers in 11 brothels and floating/street based.It has been realized all the members of the EC have ideas on counselling. They are very happy to know about the counselling support. PM to request collecting the name of the members and share the name with the Counselor who have expressed their interest in receiving this service by next week. Counselor has agreed to provide counseling support to those who are out of Dhaka over mobile phone. Tuition fees will not be provided to any children in the pilot phase as it requires a lot of money. Also, for avoiding unnecessary expectations among the children FF will not provide tuition fees in the scaleup program. SWN will start providing education support according to the list from next week. For doing this, SWN will meet with the children and their mother and will follow the following process:
- Mothers will share an application by mentioning the needs of the children. Shafia Apa will review and recommend it and Lily Apa will approve it.
- SWN will keep a permanent seal of “SWN logo with project name and Not for sale” to the logistics so that they can’t sell it anywhere.
- SWN will go for an MoU with two vendors for buying logistics and school dress and maintain a log.
- SWN will do monthly meetings with the mothers and children, visit their school and home, meet with the teachers, see their progress report for monitoring and follow up purposes.
- SWN Will share an update about the weekly meeting with FF.
CBOs will share the list of the minor sex workers who are living in the streets and the brothels.
It has been identified that all the CBOs have a lack of understanding on safeguarding issues. Network will involve them for receiving training/orientation on SG which will be done by the consultant. After contextualizing the policies, the network will share it with all CBOs with orientation.
2. REPORT ON: Sensitization Meeting with Local Police Administration on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Violence -2023
Figure 3: Sensitization Meeting with Local Police Administration on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Violence
Date of Meeting: March 22, 2023
Tentative Venue: Tejgaon Thana, Dhaka.
Total Participants: 50
Sex Workers Network (SWNOB) is a networking organization, working for the well-being of the sex workers, their family members as well as their children aiming to promote and protect their human rights in Bangladesh. It is registered with Department of Social welfare department of Bangladesh government’. It is a national platform of the 29 Sex workers organizations exists all over the country. The network is committed to establish the basic human rights of Sex workers and their children and protect them from oppression and exploitation because all sex workers of Bangladesh are more discriminated and stigmatized for their occupational characteristics. They are facing oppression, violence and sexual exploitation by the Mastan, Police, neighbors, etc.
Many sex workers are tricked to enter this profession in their childhood and they had lots of experiences of sexual exploitation and violence. That’s why SWNB is trying and will try to reduce Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and violence with the necessary support from Police.
As per the plan, under the Freedom Fund project, SWN organized a sensitization meeting with local level Police Administration to highlight and sensitize them about the children of Sex Workers are at risk of the commercial Sexual exploitation. Mainly the police have a pivotal role in preventing CSEC and protecting the children’s Workers in the Dhaka city.
To work with the police, it required to conduct series of background work. Especially when it comes to working with the sex workers and their children, the relevant stakeholders tend not to show any interest. Firstly, SWN needed to secure a permission from the Deputy Commissioner of Police through an approval letter for organizing the event engaging the local Police Station.
Objectives were of the Event:
- To discuss about how sexual exploitation can be reduced towards children and their mother’s.
- Sensitizing the vulnerability and ways to prevent children and sex worker mothers from becoming victims of sexual exploitation.
- Persuade the police for their cooperation in reducing sexual exploitation towards the children.
Apurbo Hasan Mir- Officers In charge (OC), Tejgaon Thana DMP Dhaka, Sanwar Alam khan, Police operation, Tejgaon Thana, Firoj Kabir, PI, Md. Shahin Badsha, SI, Rezaul Karim, SI Akram Hossain lion SI, khan Bawali, SI Jitesh Kanti De ASI, Tarikul Islam,ASI, Rasel khan,ASI ,Sadekur Rahman,ASI, Mohammad Rejaul – BPSI and many more from Tejgaon thana, Nurjahan Akter Shiuly, psychologist and psychological counsellor, INCIDEN Bangladesh and Khaleda akhter, Bangladesh Program Advisor, The Freedom Fund were the present there.
At the beginning of the program General Secretary provided the welcome speech with thanking the participants for joining the event. Program facilitated by Shafia Arifin, Project Manager. She presented the key note presentation and shared the objective in the meeting. Apurbo Hasan Mir- Officers In charge (OC), Tejgaon Thana, DMP Dhaka, Sanwar Alam khan, Police operation, Tejgaon thana had another pressing issue to address and expressed regret for not being able to making through the event.
Apurbo Hasan Mir- OC, Tejgaon Thana DMP Dhaka, yes, I am aware of the sex workers, their children, and their poor living condition. Most of them live on streets. As the children of sex workers, are exposed to various forms of torture and exploitations. To reduce the risk of exposure to CSEC, we can cooperate each other and progress towards a better life for the sex workers. You will have us in this matter. We don’t want them to live a life of humanity and we feel bad for them.
Sanwar Alam Khan, (Police Operation,) We are delighted to participate in this program today as we did not participate in any program like this before. It helped us to know a lot about the sex workers and CSEC. I hope to work with you again and please communicate with us.
Rezaul Karim, Sub Inspector, I see the sex workers in Tejgaon and Farmgate area those often associated with hijackers. They often annoy others. We have no question about their profession. Can they go for alternative profession? We don’t and won’t give any problem. Let them continue well, but try to go for some other profession.
Nilufa, General Secretary, SWN, we are working on this project with the children. So that no child is commercially exploited. Many of our children live on the streets, they are victims of sexual exploitation. They are forced into sex work for very little money. If you ever see a child being abused, you should take immediate action.
Bawali, Sub Inspector, for my fortune, I am a police officer; they are sex workers. They will not be exposed to any torture by us. They will not do anything that makes us look bad. If we arrest someone, there is no cooperation from you. We do not want to torture them but there are many complaints from public. We have a collaboration mindset that really works for you.
Nurjahan Akter Shiuly, psychologist and psychological counsellor, INCIDEN Bangladesh,I am working in , INCIDEN Bangladesh . A birthday registration is required for a child’s JD. But we can’t do the JD, if they don’t have it. We hope for your sincere help and cooperation in this regard.
Khaleda, Akter, Bangladesh Program Advisor, The Freedom Fund: She has mentioned the mission and vision for the Bangladesh program, provided the description on the Freedom Fund global movement. She mentioned about objectives of the pilot program, target groups, the project locations and the findings of the prevalence study. She also shared the root causes of CSEC, importance to address it and the challenges faced by the target group, especially the violence they (street based minor sex workers, children, adult sex workers) are facing by the local people, police and local hooligan. She requested the Police Authority to stay with SWNB and INCIDIN to protect the children living in the street and the sex workers from the violence and also cordially requested them if they find any minor involve in street-based sex work then they should inform to the SWNB so that SWNB can bring them out of CSEC.
Aleya Akter Lily, President,SWN , We are working under this project so that no child of ours is left behind. Also, the network is doing a lot of work. But many of you have said to go to any other profession but a sex workers cannot easily go to any other profession if he wants to there are many obstacles like she needs counselling. She cannot change that profession if she wants to, so we are slowly trying to employ them in different jobs. If a sex workers voluntary wants to change her profession. We cannot forcefully change his profession. We do not want any child to come into this profession whether it is the child of a public worker or a mainstreaming child. We are working for all children. We will work to prevent any form of child abuse.
Immediate Out Come:
- Number of Police Officers have been sensitized about the CSEC in Dhaka.
- Taking support from the police to rescue and protect from CSEC.
- The Police agreed to work in collaboration to reduce CSEC and establish close connections with the leaders
Long term Out Come:
- It opens the window for future collaboration among the stakeholders to prevent children from CSEC.
- The working relationship between police and the sex workers network will be improved so that network can try to protect children their mother from violence.
- If the network ever receives any information that any girl child is at risk of sexual exploitation or is a victim of sexual exploitation in any place and immediate cooperation of the law enforcement agencies will be taken to remove her from the vulnerable position.
- Create a referral mechanism to provide protection services with involvement police.
- It was difficult to obtain permission from the DC Police engaging the local thana which consumed time and increased uncertainty.
- Planning ahead of the time as these advocacies and sensitizing events with the government stakeholders may take increased time.