Trafficking in persons is a heinous crime with serious International dimensions. Internally organized crime syndicates involved in migrant smuggling, trafficking of narcotics and arms, often control trafficking in persons as well. Trafficking is an exploitative process starting with the recruitment and transportation of persons, after which they are sold or forced into all forms of labor and servitude, including trafficking into forced marriages, and forced prostitution. Trafficking is a crime that violates the fundamental human rights of its victims, along side of which there are a number of consequences for the countries of origin, transit and destination involved, not withstanding risks for national and international security.
SHARP and its team of Attorneys of Human Rights and Volunteers are continuously working on the eradication and elimination of human rights and providing free legal aid to the victims as well as their families. They are regularly holding meetings with the communities and creating awareness on the human trafficking as a crime.
In future, SHARP plans to organize sensitization training workshops for the responsible organizations which are mainly involved and deputed at the EXIT and ENTRY points of Pakistan such as border crossing points, airport and sea port. SHARP also plans to establish and strengthen partnership with all the stake holders.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the support of the Canadian International Development Agencies Program for the Advancement of Gender Equality (CIDA – PAGE) has been implementing its 2 year counter trafficking project entitled Development of a Conceptual Framework and Strategies to Combat Trafficking. This project has focused on bringing together representatives from governmental institutions, international organizations, UN agencies, civil sector organizations, media and academics in a unique forum called Pakistan Thematic Group on Human Trafficking (PTGHT). This forum facilitated the PTGHT members to study, debate, and reach consensus on pertinent issues regarding the nature, causes and consequences of the phenomenon of trafficking to identify viable solutions in tackling the crime. SHARP has been a proud voluntary PTGHT member since the inception of this project and actively participated on the activities of PTGHT from the day one till last. SHARP had the advantage in arranging events in this regard and translated its experience and expertise with the group.
Apart from this, SHARP was assigned a project under the name of Promoting safe Migration Practices to prevent Human Trafficking by the American Center International Labor Solidarity in the year 2008. SHARP conducted four workshops in the areas knowingly hubs of women and children trafficking internally and externally. The workshops were conducted in Gujrat, Bahawalpur, Mardan and Peshawar. The background prepared for the trainings reveal that Human Trafficking is a heinous crime against humanity causing serious threats to the HR agenda. Human trafficking has now become more profitable trade than, arms and drugs industry in today`s world. Human trafficking does not form in isolation; it is directly linked to the social and economic realities of a society and takes place in result of irregular migration. It is no coincidence that the growth in trafficking has taken place during a period where there has been an increasing international demand for migrant workers, which has not been adequately acknowledged or facilitated. The lack of regular migration opportunities to take up work in other countries and the fact that many migrants are looking for work abroad as a means of survival, rather than an opportunity to improve their standard of living, has left migrants with little choice but to rely on smugglers or traffickers in order to access these jobs.
In spite of all the loud public statements for the sanctity of human rights and the dignity of human beings, flesh-trade remains uncontrolled; which shows that is a denial of all the moral declarations of development and equality. In the world globe, human beings in general, and women and children in particular, are bought and sold to cater a variety of needs: sex slavery, prostitution, legal and illegal labor and marriages, bonded labor, camel jockeys, baby farms, adoption and entertainment.
Irregular migration is one main reason that leads people towards driven by powerful and complex forces, including a lack of jobs and other livelihood opportunities in countries of origin and the demand for cheap and flexible labor in destination countries. The growth of irregular migration is also linked to a lack of regular migration opportunities, and is facilitated b y criminal networks that profit from migrants smuggling and from human trafficking Poverty reduction is now the most urgent task facing many developing countries. Unemployment is a key factor in poverty and the millions of youths who are unemployed are socially and economically dependent.
In the context of Pakistan, the problem of human trade and trafficking is multidimensional in nature, as it needs to be addressed on various fronts. First of all, it is the destination point for those being trafficked in from Bangladesh, Burma, Afghanistan and Central Asia; secondly, a transit point for those brought from Far East Asia and Bangladesh to be taken elsewhere; and additionally, it is a recruiting ground for those who are trafficked and sent to Gulf.
The victims of trafficking are either lured by better job prospects, or kidnapped against their wishes. In some cases, women and children are sold by their parents, guardians and husbands. Sometimes girls are sold after fake marriages, or deceived into illegal cross-border migration.
Pakistan, as a country, has not been able to provide a remotely satisfactory standard of living to its people. According to some estimates, 1.1 million people are added to the labor market each year. With the limited absorption capacity o f the labor market, more than half of these new entrants are unable to find jobs. The induction of trafficked workforce into an already saturated market further deteriorates the situation.
The main hindrances in the elimination of the problem are lack of sufficient information on the issue, lack of awareness at community level, lack of knowledge regarding safe migration, absence of shelter and rehabilitation programmes, lack of political commitment on the part of governments, and the lack of proper law enforcement due to which the crime itself often remains invisible. Traffickers, recruiters and agents on the other hand, are working in the organized groups have clear links to shine the trade. Trafficking is an international as well as regional concern that needs to be faced on a priority basis.
SHARP has been working for the elimination of human trafficking and in the past SHARP contributed not only awareness campaign for safe migration but also practically got involved in rule making of the Human trafficking ordinance 2002. SHARP was assigned to arrange an awareness raising campaign on the safe migration to prevent human trafficking by the Solidarity Center and in this regard a set of TOTs was organized in the year 2008 in location of Bahawalpur, Mardan, Peshawar, Gujarat and consultation workshop was held in Islamabad. The basic purpose of these TOTs is to enhance the capacity of the stakeholders of selected locations to discuss various methods to prevent trafficking and promote safe migration and the circumstances being faced by the victims due to trafficking.
The overall objective of this set of TOTs was to enhance the anti-human trafficking capacity of area of the local bodies through raising general levels of awareness and understanding about human trafficking as a special crime type. The collective recommendations are given below:
1) Raise awareness on grass root level and foster commitment to adopt and implement policies to counter trafficking in persons.
2) Increase the knowledge base about human trafficking; build and strengthen greater commitment to existing and new partnership with Governments, the international community, NGOs, the private sector, civil society, organization and the media.
3) Mobilize resources to support action; and implement project to fight human trafficking on a local regional and international level.
4) Formation of inter religious priest forum in all district and also on state level and Establishing linkages / contact with NGO network working.
5) Manage education and outreach regarding trafficking in person to target Government officials, traditional leaders and members of the community, paying special attention to decreasing the stigmatization of victims.
6) Strengthen and sensitize the police and courts to address all forms of trafficking and sexual violence.