Speakers: banning social media apps is not the answer to preventing human trafficking

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BTRC does not have the technical resources to ban applications

A ban on social media apps like Likee and TikTok will not be an effective solution to preventing human trafficking, speakers told a webinar.

Instead of banning apps, the government should focus on educating parents and young girls so that everyone uses social media responsibly, they suggested.

The webinar, “Misuse of Information and Communication Technologies: What to Do to Prevent Trafficking in Women and Girls,” was hosted by the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) on Saturday.

Addressing the webinar, Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Vice Chairman Subrata Kumar Maitra said there was no other way but to educate women and girls human trafficking and the dangers of social media.

“The BTRC does not have the technical resources to ban these kinds of applications in Bangladesh. We report to major business offices if we find anything inappropriate on social media platforms, and they remove it if they think the content is harmful, ”he added.

MJF Senior Coordinator Shahana Huda Ranjana said it would be easy for app users to find a way around a ban, for example by using a virtual private network (VPN).

“There is no point in banning these apps. Raising awareness among parents, children and young girls should be the main way to prevent human trafficking, ”she added.

MJF executive director Shaheen Anam said students were forced to use smartphones because the pandemic forced them to take classes and homework online.

“We are getting reports from parents that they cannot limit screen time for their children because they have to use electrical devices like smartphones or computers for school. It is not always possible to monitor what they are doing online, ”she said, stressing the importance of raising awareness.

She also said that human trafficking rackets should not believe they are stronger than the state.

“These criminal gangs are emboldened because they do not see any traffickers receiving exemplary punishment, which leads to an increase in human trafficking,” she said.

Umme Wara, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Dhaka (DU), said young women are often attracted to ideas of celebrity on social media because they are discriminated against and deprived of a voice in society.

“When [young women] seeing that they can be stars and get some sort of agency and voice through these social media platforms, they fall into the trap, ”she said.

She added that women in low-income sectors of society now have access to these apps and need to be made aware of the dangers associated with them.

Salma Ali, human rights activist and president of the Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association (BNWLA), said survivors of human trafficking by social media gangs were often more interested in recovering the money they left behind. scammed only to fight legal battles.

“This is the reason why many cases do not even make it through the legal system,” she said.


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