HUMAN trafficking is a serious crime and amongst the fastest growing areas of international crime activity. It is unlawful act and grave violation of human rights. Its existence in almost every country of the world cannot deny but its nature and intensity may be different. Pakistan is also striving to prevent and control human trafficking. Due to insufficient empirical evidences, it is difficult to know the current magnitude and trends of human trafficking in the country. However, Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Human trafficking 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. Human trafficking is a multidimensional phenomenon which is often influenced by socio-economic, cultural and other factors. The casual analysis of human trafficking unveiled that unsatisfactory local condition, meager financial resources, oppression, insufficient socio-economic opportunities are major factors in human trafficking. These factors compel the population to migrate for better livelihood. Nevertheless, civil unrest and internal or extend armed conflict causes the massive displacement which leads to the vulnerability of the population.
This vulnerability encourages the exploitation and abuse of population particularly women and children through trafficking and forced labour. When a person, child, women is trafficked, used in different professions. Women and girls work in brothels, massage parlors, or used to produce pornographic materials. They are sexually exploited. Boys are trafficked for labor exploitation. They work in chemicals and pesticides or operation machines on low wages and cannot report the hazardous work environment due to their illegal status in the host country. It is also reported by Human Rights Organizations that children are recruited worldwide by the terrorist for fighting and suicidal bombing in war-affected areas. Additionally, illicit adoption and organ harvesting propel the trafficking of infants, babies and young children.
As far as Government of Pakistan’s initiatives to prevent and control human trafficking are concerned, Article (11) of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 prohibits slavery, forced labor Slavery is non-existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate in any form. All forms of forced labor and trafficking in human beings are prohibited. Pakistan has also ratified different international and regional convention for the prevention and control of human trafficking. United Nations Convention against transnational Organized Crime was ratified in 2000, SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution was ratified in 2002. Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on Rights of the Child on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and Optional Protocol of involvement of children in armed conflict were ratified in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Keeping in view the international obligations and national interest, the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance 2002 was enacted which provides severe penalties to the person involved in trafficking either directly or indirectly.
Furthermore, The Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act, 2016 has been enacted on 16th March, 2016 as an effort to harmonize our laws with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child. New section “369-A (Trafficking of human beings) has been inserted in the PPC which proposed strict punishments for perpetrators. Aforesaid legislative measures are being implemented in true letter and spirit but it is noteworthy to encourage Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders to play their role in awareness and education of the people regarding menace of human trafficking. Different awareness raising campaigns can be initiated trough media, radio messages, seminars in different educational institutes so that people can be educated about the hazards of human trafficking and human trafficking mechanisms in the country. Coordinated efforts by the Government of Pakistan and Civil Society Organizations can make a different in preventing human trafficking.
– The writer is a Social Welfare Officer in Ministry of Human Rights, Islamabad.