Trafficking of children

Umra Naseem

Pakistan is a source, transit and destination country 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 provinces in agriculture and brick making, and to a lesser extent in mining and carpet-making. Estimates of bonded labour victims, including men, women and children vary widely but are likely well over one million. In an extreme scenario, when labourers speak publicly against abuse, landowners have kidnapped labourers and their families. Boys and girls are also bought, sold, rented or kidnapped to work in unorganized, illegal begging rings, domestic servitude, prostitution in agriculture bonded labour.
Illegal labour agents charge high fee from parents with false promises of decent work for their children, who are later exploited and subjected to forced labour in domestic servitude, unskilled labour, small shops and other sectors. Agents who had previously trafficked children for camel jockeying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were not convicted and continue to engage in child trafficking. Girls and women are also sold into forced marriages; in some cases their new “husbands” move them across Pakistani borders and force them into prostitution. Non-state militant groups kidnap children or coerce parents with fraudulent promises into giving away children as young as 12 to spy, fight or die as suicide bombers. The militants often sexually and physically abuse the children and use psychological coercion to convince the children that the acts they commit are justified.

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