Surveillance begins on app users after a gang of traffickers who lured girls into the sex trade in India has been dismantled.
Bangladesh began monitoring people using the TikTok video-sharing platform after security forces dismantled a gang of traffickers who lured girls into the sex trade in neighboring India using the application, an official said.
“A large number of TikTok users suspected of being involved in criminal activity are under close surveillance,” ANM Imran Khan, spokesperson for the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) against crime, said on Wednesday.
The surveillance began after eleven members of an alleged transnational gang were arrested for allegedly trafficking women and girls to the neighboring country using the app.
The traffickers used the app to trick the girls into making them into TikTok models, and ultimately smuggling them into the Indian sex trade in the name of better jobs there, Khan said.
The arrests came after a girl, who managed to escape captivity in India and return to Bangladesh, filed a complaint with the police in Dhaka, and the video of a sexual assault on another girl 22-year-old Bangladeshi girl went viral on social media last month.
In her complaint, the girl accused a certain Rifatul Islam Ridoy, also known as TikTok Ridoy for his expertise in filming videos using the app, of having trapped her in a border district in February, and then smuggled her to India.
She was then taken to the southern Indian city of Bengaluru and forced into the sex trade, police said, according to the complaint.
Ridoy, who was reportedly arrested in India, used to invite young girls to pool parties and video outings in Dhaka and offered them good jobs in call centers, supermarkets or private offices in India, Khandaker Al Moin, another RAB official, told local media.
The transnational gang, he said, has at least 50 members and has smuggled some 500 people to India over the past five years.
Salma Ali, a rights activist, said Bangladeshi security forces should further strengthen online surveillance in order to thwart organized crime such as trafficking.
Her non-governmental organization, the Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers’ Association, which monitors violence against women and children, reported some 533 cases of trafficking in Bangladesh in 2020.
RAB chief Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun suggested on Sunday that Bangladesh should ban apps like TikTok and Likee for a while.