The main cause of women and child trafficking in SAARC countries is poverty as the poor in this region often become victims of allurements of notorious people.
Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan made this comment while addressing at a National Conference on "Trafficking on the SAARC Agenda: The Way Forward" as chief guest.
Held at the LGED auditorium Thursday in the city's Agargaon area, the conference was organised by Khan Foundation in cooperation with UNICEF Bangladesh.
Bhuiyan said the country needs to alleviate poverty to stop women and child trafficking.
Awareness has to be created among people on this issue and both women and children have to be treated the same way, he added. Bhuiyan suggested that local government has to be involved in successfully rooting out trafficking.
He also said that necessary laws were in place to stop trafficking and to give exemplary punishment to the culprits.
The daylong national conference was presided over by Executive Director of Khan Foundation Rokhsana Khondker.
It was also attended and addressed by Rajshahi City Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu, Home Secretary Sarfar Raj Hossain, Women and Children Affairs Secretary M Hyder Ali and UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh Louis Georges Arsenault as special guests.
High government officials, lawmakers, academics, policy planners, journalists, lawyers, civil society members, representatives from grassroots level (Union parishad members & chairmen), child representatives as well as members of foreign missions and donor communities participated in the conference.
A good number of papers were presented at the National Conference.
UNICEF Bangladesh Country Representative Arsenault said: "Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar trade today due to erosion of our value system. We seek an end to it".
Mayor Mizanur Rahman said local government representatives have significant roles to play in preventing human trafficking.
Home Secretary Hossain said trafficking has been a global problem. Government of Bangladesh took significant and comprehensive steps to ensure prevention of trafficking during the last two years.
Ishrat Shamim, a speaker of the conference, stressed the need of expanding the definition of trafficking in the SAARC Convention.
Amena Mohsin, chairperson of the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka said in her presentation that trafficking should be considered as a clear violation of fundamental human rights.
In her welcome speech, Rokhsana Khondker said that in 2002 SAARC summit, a convention on "Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution" was enacted.
However, it didn't enter into force until recently when all SAARC members have ratified the convention, she lamented.
Rokhsana expected that this Declaration will act as a milestone in the region to combat trafficking of women and children.
The conference resulted in a number of significant recommendations that will be shared with SAARC countries for follow up and relevant actions by the governments and civil societies.