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Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid
Opp. Sindh Assembly Building, Court Road,
Karachi-74200, Pakistan
UAN: 111-911-912 Fax: 5685938

Email: lhrla@fascom.com
madadgaar@cyber.net.pk

Trafficking in Women & Children

Women and children are being sold everywhere - Chinese women in Bangkok, Nepalese women in India, South Asian children in the UAE, Philippine children and Thai women - the flesh trade is flourishing globally. In Pakistan the victims are primarily of Bangladeshi and Burmese origin, ranging in age from infants to elderly women.

Trafficking in women and children is a contemporary form of slavery and is a grave violation of human rights. It is an international problem, connected to political, socio-economic and gender inequities.

LHRLA's Efforts

LHRLA is the first organisation to take up the issue of human trafficking in the country, and it has published three comprehensive reports on the flesh trade in the region

  • LHRLA's research, conducted in 1991, 1992 and 1993, specifically on the issue of trafficking of women and children, has revealed that approximately 100 to 150 Bangladeshi women are brought into Pakistan as human cargo every day.

  • 32 Bengali and Burmese women and children who remained imprisoned for 4 years on a trafficking charge

  • LHRLA investigations further revealed that over 200,000 Bangladeshi women are present in Pakistan and at least 2000 are languishing in jails and shelters all over the country.

  • The majority of the trafficked Bangladeshi and Burmese women in jail have been charged under Pakistan's Foreigners Act of 1946, and/or incorrectly charged under the Hudood Ordinance of Pakistan.

  • LHRLA obtained the release of many such Bangladeshi and Burmese victims of trafficking from Pakistani prisons and was instrumental in advocating the ban on transporting children from Pakistan as camel jockeys to the UAE.

  • LHRLA has participated in many conferences and helped in drafting recommendations submitted to the SAARC heads of states. It also hosted a regional conference on Trafficking of Women and Children in South Asia; it was the first time that the issue was taken up on a public platform in Pakistan.

  • A documentary and a report was made by LHRLA, in collaboration with BBC and Asia Watch, on Bengali victims of trafficking. This resulted in rousing public awareness, and led to the release and rehabilitation of many such women and children.

  • LHRLA has published three comprehensive reports on the trafficking of women and children in Pakistan. The first came out in 1991, the second in 1993, and a third, more detailed report in 1995.

  • LHRLA has started a three-year program from the year 2000 for free legal assistance for trafficked women and children. The goal is to secure the release and rehabilitation of trafficked prisoners, particularly the Bangladeshis and the Burmese.

  • Currently an extensive research project on trafficking has been started in the four provinces of Pakistan to further determine the extent of the problem.

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    Case Profiles

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Two boys recovered from Karachi Airport while they were being smuggled to Dubai. They had already visited Dubai once for camel race as jockey and were going once again

    There was a gross violation of basic rights is the case of 16 Bengali women who were arrested when discovered in the custody of a pimp. The police, on discovering them, rather then using them as witnesses against the pimp, arrested them and charged them under the Hudood Ordinance. LHRLA decided to plead their case and as a result these women were finally acquitted. But they had nowhere to go and finally took shelter at the Edhi Centre.

    In another instance, Advocate Zia Ahmed Awan, the President of LHRLA, filed a petition for the release of thirty Bangladeshi women and children from jail. They had been imprisoned since four years on a trafficking charge. The release orders were given on 13th March 1997, and they returned home on March 16th.


    Camel Kids

    The tradition of camel racing dates back hundreds of years. However, the jockeys were not children. Poverty, greed and sport force a child to become a commodity. The deceived parents, in the hope of a better future for their offspring, are unaware of the hazards involved. The jockeys are mostly children from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sudan. The age of a camel jockey is between 2 to 10 years.

    The attention of the public was drawn to this serious crime when all the newspapers reported in September 1986 that 7 boys, varying in age from 3 -7, accompanied by 6 men had been arrested, boarding a flight to Dubai. However, it was reported that the men were related to the children.

    LHRLA's Efforts

  • LHRLA decided to investigate further and to render justice based on humanitarian grounds. They visited Makran, where 7 other camel kids had been saved from becoming camel jockeys. The newspaper report had stated that the camel kids were used for organ transplants and drug trafficking as well. It was revealed that 19,000 kids had been taken from rural and coastal areas.

  • The hue and cry raised by LHRLA, other NGOs and international heads of states put pressure on the UAE to ban the 'import' of camel jockeys.

  • LHRLA was able to get a good response from the federal ombudsman, stating that they would deal with this burning issue; however very little has been done to date.

  • LHRLA is making an effort to research and document cases of trafficking of women and children. An estimate can thus be made of the number of children being kidnapped and smuggled out of the country; the route through which

  • A more detailed and documented report on the trafficking of women and children is being prepared to draw the attention of the government, and national and international human rights organisations, to this issue.

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