PAKISTAN: Pakistan is Source Country for Sex-Trafficking of Children

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Spero News
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Despite laws prohibiting it, forced labor to pay debts are very common in Pakistan. A report by the U.S. Government in 2009 describes the Asian country as a source, transit and destination of the traffic of men, women and children into forced labor and sexual exploitation.

The main aspect of human trafficking in Pakistan is that of forced labor. Mainly in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab, working in brick kilns, carpet, agriculture, fisheries, mining, leather tanning, and the production of glass bangles are mostly widespread. According to the report, the estimates of victims of forced labor are very different, but along with those of forced marriages and women who are traded to settle disputes among tribal groups or as a means of payment, are likely to exceed one million.

In a study in 2003, the NGO Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, based in Karachi, reported that more than half a million people were forced to work in brick kilns. The Pakistani National Coalition Against Bonded Labour, composed of a group of local NGOs, describes the phenomenon as "one of the last known forms of contemporary slavery responsible for this condition experienced by millions of people around the world". Apart from paying the debt, parents are selling, or looking to sell their children for other reasons. In the town of Vehari, in southern Punjab, women were seen in the streets, whose husbands were drug addicts, and were trying to sell their children because they were not able to feed them, hoping they could have a better life. Or, again in Vehari, children put up for sale in order to allow their mother a transplant.

In a recent report, the Asian Development Bank has highlighted the fact that since the beginning of 2011, the cost of food has increased by 10% reducing 6.94 million Pakistanis to poverty. The prices are too high, the wheat has increased by 10% and rice by 13.1%, and people cannot afford to provide their children even just one meal a day. In Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, two parents have sold a child for a bag of wheat flour. According to a member of the district of Vehari a strategy to create a social safety net for the poor, creating employment and controlling inflation is of fundamental importance.