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September 18, 2019



September 18, 2019

Most experts say that gathering accurate figures on domestic violence and the trafficking of women is an extremely arduous job. However, based on estimates from various organisations, it is estimated that around 20,000 cases of human trafficking and domestic violence occurred in the country last year and 92 percent of the cases involved women and girls. Those trafficked ranged in age from between two and 50 years. While women make up 80 percent of those trafficked globally and 60 percent of trafficked women belong to Asia, the figures for Pakistan are extremely alarming. Trafficking is a problem that has been given too little attention. According to the US State Department Annual Report on Trafficked Persons, Pakistan is a point of origin, transit and destination for trafficked people. Recently, a case involving the trafficking of young Pakistani women to China was highlighted, but of course hundreds of others are not. Experts point out that to tackle the problem, behaviour and social norms need to be transformed. The use of media for this purpose is considered very important.

It has been seen that in many cases traffickers are not strangers but family members, friends or acquaintances. Victims are often taken away on the pretext of better jobs, marriage, better economic prospects or simply through kidnapping. To combat this issue, we need more discourse around developing a legislative framework to guard against trafficking and on shaping mindsets through the media. The issue of rehabilitating rescued women in safe communities where they would have dignity and respect also needs priority. As is the need to sensitise law-enforcement agencies and other service providers so that they can adequately respond to and support survivors.

The question is how we are to achieve all this. The beginning must be made by making women and other possible victims aware of the dangers of trafficking and how they can be lured into it. Offers of employment overseas with lucrative salaries should always draw suspicion. It is also important that families understand that even members of their own household may not be trustworthy or dependable. Only once we have more awareness can there be a better guarantee of safety for women and girls in society. We also need more data on the precise number of girls and women trafficked for domestic labour, forced marriage or other purposes. There is at the moment too little attention focused on the problem and this needs to change if we are to reduce the issue of trafficking in our country.

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