USPG celebrates victory in battle against Bangladesh sex trade

A Bangladeshi woman who was abducted and forced into sex work has received compensation following the intervention of the Church of Bangladesh.

In an out of court settlement, Sabina, from Kamdevpur, was awarded £450 - the equivalent of three years' salary for a poor family in Bangladesh. The award is a major achievement in the Church's ongoing battle against sex traffickers.

Community worker James Pender, who is in Bangladesh supported by the Anglican mission agency USPG, said: "Getting any settlement for trafficked women is extremely rare, and to have the money paid upfront is nothing short of a miracle."

The Rev Jessie Anand, USPG's Regional Desk Officer for Asia and Oceania, said: "We are delighted for Sabina and thank God for the work of the Church of Bangladesh in tackling the sex trade. The outcomes of this case gives us courage to keep battling the sex traffickers."

Bangladesh is classified by the UN as a "high origin" in the trafficking of women, children and men, and while exact figures are unknown, NGOs estimate that several thousand women and children are trafficked out of Bangladesh each year.

Sabina comes from a rural family of eight that are so poor that, instead of being sent to school, Sabina and her siblings had to do housework for neighbours to get food.

At the age of 12, a relative offered to provide Sabina with a well-paid job in India and she left the family home with her parents' blessing. Sadly, joy turned to despair when the trusted relative sold Sabina to a pimp.

Mr Pender explained: "For seven years, Sabina was forced to work as a prostitute, being violated by up to 15 men a night. She was helpless to resist and contemplated suicide. But she eventually convinced a client to help her escape."

Sabina eventually heard about the Church of Bangladesh Social Development Programme (CBSDP). Now aged 22, Sabina found herself on the CBSDP's Women and Children Trafficking Prevention Project, which trained her in tailoring and embroidery. From this, she was able to start her own tailoring business.

Feeling empowered, Sabina decided to take her traffickers to court through the CBSDP's Rights, Advocacy and Empowerment Programme.

Following a year-and-a-half of legal battles - during which her abusers used intimidation tactics - the traffickers agreed to an out of court settlement.

"Sabina gladly accepted," said Mr Pender. "Indeed, this was another miracle because court-ruled settlements can take years to materialise.

"The amount would have significantly hurt the traffickers and is an absolute fortune to Sabina and her poor family."

The settlement has also worked a miracle inside Sabina.

"After hearing the settlement, Sabina's whole countenance changed," Mr Pender continued. "The worry lines have now gone and an almost permanent smile has replaced them.

"When I told Sabina that churches and friends of Bangladesh had been praying for her, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, 'God has shown His face to me through their prayers.'"

Sabina's traffickers have been ordered to sign a legal statement admitting their crime and promising not to engage trafficking again - a document that could be used in their prosecution if they resume such activities.

The Church of Bangladesh is featured in USPG's five-week Lent bible study. A free booklet can be ordered at