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January 11, 2019



January 11, 2019

A recent report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes on the extent of global human trafficking makes for grim reading. According to the report, there were more victims of trafficking in 2016 than in any previous year. This is mainly due to the multiple wars that have ravaged the world. Millions of refugees from Yemen, Libya, Syria and other countries are forced to turn to smugglers in an attempt to flee certain death in their homes. These smugglers charge exorbitant rates and pack refugees like sardines in small boats that often sink. They also frequently sell these refugees to criminal enterprises that use them as sex workers. Much of the fault lies with the Western countries to which these refugees are trying to escape. Rather than going after the smugglers themselves, they have demonised the refugees. In Australia, refugees are imprisoned in awful conditions on a remote island as this will supposedly deter them from turning to smugglers. What it has actually done is give smugglers impunity since they know no one is going to go after them while the refugees themselves escape danger at home only to be treated with cruelty abroad.

In Pakistan, human smuggling – particularly of children – has always been a problem. Smuggling networks are used to send young boys to the Gulf States as camel jockeys, and children are often forced into labour both within Pakistan and abroad. The US State Department, in its most recent report on human trafficking, claimed that Pakistan’s laws against trafficking are weak, traffickers are seldom prosecuted and influential people complicit in trafficking are allowed to go scot free. One major problem is that the law against sex and labour trafficking requires that it be demonstrated that children being trafficked were subject to force or trafficked against their will. Understandably, many children are terrified of testifying against their traffickers and captors. Clearly, we need to work much harder than we have been doing to eliminate trafficking. We should start by beefing up our laws and then working with our neighbours to secure our borders. There needs to be zero tolerance for trafficking, no matter how powerful those involved in the crime may be. This is a crime we have ignored for too long and the consequences are plain for everyone to see.

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