Does poverty stem human trafficking in Pakistan?

KARACHI: When she was a child, her mother often said daughters bring good fortune, but now it seems a curse.

11-year-old Sana, who lives at a shelter home now, was sold by no one else, but her own parents to a couple for Rs 2,000 per month. Coming from the rural areas of Punjab, the child was sold into domestic servitude by the parents knowingly. Sana started working as domestic help at the couple’s house, who owned her, while her family was sent Rs 2,000 in advance at the beginning of each month.

She lived in Gulberg with her buyers, who made her work for extended periods of time with barely enough food or at times, no food. Her ‘employers’ tortured her for a couple of years physically as well as mentally.

It is not the only case in our society, nor an isolated case of parents involved in human trafficking. In documents, Pakistan is considered a source, transit point, and destination for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking for forced labour, prostitution with a rising trend in buying children for domestic servitude.

Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

There are three constituent elements in human trafficking, including what is done, how it is done and why it is done.

Rescue: One day, Aurat Foundation Regional Co-coordinator Shireen Aijaz received a call regarding a child abuse case. The caller informed that in her neighbourhood, a couple used to torture a girl, who is from Punjab and worked as a servant. Taking notice of the matter, the foundation raided the house along with the police, which nabbed the couple and her guardian. Later, Sana, the victim was shifted to Panah Shelter.

Talking to Daily Times, Aurat Foundation Head Mahnaz Rahman said that the reason behind rising violence against children is illiteracy and wrong use of power.

Source: Daily Times

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