South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Source Article: Daily Times, Pakistan

Called one of the modern forms of slavery, human trafficking affects 2.5 million people around the world, most of them women and children. Nearly every country around the globe is affected by the scourge. If on the one hand human trafficking is one of the worst forms of human rights violations, on the other it has become one of the most lucrative crimes for perpetrators with annual profits as high as $ 36 billion per year. It ranks as the world’s third most profitable criminal activity after drugs and arms trafficking. Women make up the majority — up to 60 per cent — of all trafficking victims globally and women and girls together make up 75 per cent of all victims. A majority of these women and girls are trafficked for sexual purposes. Women become an easy target because of economic constraints in their home country that the traffickers use to lure them with promises of a better life abroad. Praying on the vulnerabilities of these desperate women, the traffickers promise them decent working conditions and good pay abroad. However, more often than not, in the destination countries these women are subjected to physical violence, sexual assault and rape, battery, imprisonment, threats and other forms of coercion. Under international law, countries are required to provide protection to women against being trafficked.

Pakistan, like many other countries, has been unable to provide its women protection against trafficking. Poor economic conditions, lack of education and job opportunities force women to explore alternative ways to feed themselves and their families. And what could be a better alternative than leaving Pakistan in search of greener pastures abroad. This is exactly what has happened to two girls recently recovered by the Federal Investigation Agency from a trafficking network operated by a woman called Ayesha and her husband Zulfiqar. The girls had been taken to Dubai to work as domestics. Knowing well that their girls would be travelling on fake documents, their parents took the risk for a better future for the girls. The girls were forced into sex slavery and subjected to the worst form of torture and physical assault. The ordeal lasted for four years until the girls finally told their family and escaped the network. But the spectre of revenge by Ayesha, who has been released on bail by a court and whose husband has fled from the premises of the Lahore High Court, has kept the girls and their family in constant fear of reprisals. The family has moved to some remote area to hide. The governments of Pakistan and Dubai must take note of the instant case and find ways to minimise if not eliminate women trafficking.