Published: August 7, 2011
LAHORE: Millions of children throughout the world are targets of child trafficking. They are victims of pornography, trafficking and child prostitution. Common reasons cited for this disgusting category of child exploitation is poverty, low status of girls and women, rapid urbanisation, break-up of traditional families, consumerist values and sensational mass-media.
I want to draw attention of our government towards this sensitive issue. Pakistan is considered as one of the biggest sources for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking, specifically forced labour and prostitution. The largest human trafficking problem is bonded labour, concentrated in Sindh and Punjab in agriculture and in brick-making, and to a lesser extent in mining and carpet-making. In some extreme cases, when labourers speak publicly against abuse, landowners have kidnapped them and their family members.
Children have also been bought, sold, rented, or kidnapped to work in organised, illegal begging rings, domestic servitude and prostitution. So-called ‘labour agents’ charge high fees from parents with false promises of providing their offspring decent work. The latter are then taken away and made to live a life of exploitation.
In Balochistan recently, two parents reportedly sold a child for a bag of wheat flour. Clearly, with the economic situation that most Pakistanis find themselves in today, with the government not doing much and a complete absence of a social safety net, what are ordinary people to do?
Sahiba Irfan Khan
Provincial programme coordinator
Society for the Protection of Rights of the Child
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.