PAKISTAN: Child slavery — 20,000 children with small heads are run by the shrines for beggary 

Malik Ayub Sumbal 

No one knows about the reality and sad saga of these greenish veiled and shaved head individuals carried by their masters with a chain about their necks to get the sympathies of the masses for the sake of begging.

The worst form of slavery in the name of religious tradition has become a common practice in Pakistan as no law and authority is ready to save these enforced mentally retarded slaves from their cruel masters and the beggar’s mafia.

In Pakistan where such kind of examples of the worst inhuman attitude and behaviours is a routine matter no one dares to shed their tears on these issues. Slavery has been banned the world over but still in Pakistan human beings are made to be slaves for the shameful acts of the inhuman and brutal mafia in the country.

There is a worst form of slavery, having a stupid and so called spiritual myth to tell the people to get more commiseration and money in the name of these innocent people who have been paralyzed by this mafia through a brutal manner.

There are very strange individuals in Pakistan associated with a Shrine of Pir Shah Daula in Gujrat, a saint of the Suhrawardi School of thought. During the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb, Shah Daula in Gujrat, is said to have the power to punish disobedient parents in the shape of children with small heads (Micro encephalic Children). These children are the property of the Shrines in different parts of the country and are called “Rats of Shah Daula”.

Scores of worshippers and followers of Pir Daula Shah especially barren women, who beg for children, come to the saint invoking his blessings for the fulfilment of their wishes. The first born, usually with a very small head, is called the “mouse of Shah Daula” and is offered to work as a servant at the shrine. Subsequent births produce normal children.

According to a centuries-old tradition and the follower’s belief, barren women who worship at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Daula, will become fertile. But unless they donate their first-born child to the shrine as an oblate, all their subsequent children will be born disabled.

Claims are made that the tradition has been used as the foundation for a trade in the donated children, who are deliberately disfigured and sold to professional beggars by the shrine’s guardians, although the shrine is now controlled by the government of Pakistan.

It has been claimed that the defacement are caused by a genetic abnormality, but studies show that the children are unrelated to each other. There may be as many as 20,000 of these people, most in the Punjab province & the city of Gujrat.

One such example of gross human rights violation perpetrated in the name of religion on ignorant people who have gotten so much superstitious is that upon fulfilment of their wishes they leave their kids on premises of a tomb. The heads of these innocent children are donned with steel helmets to restrict their growth and then used for the begging in the various part of the country.

These kids are trained for the sake of begging and then rented out in the hands of the beggar’s mafia in the country. This has been in progress for last several decades but there is no law in the country to control this practice.

When contacted and asked to the City Police Officer, Rawalpindi, Azhar Hameed Khokhar about the issue of these enforced baggers he said: “We are taking action against these elements according to the Beggars Act and no one will be above the law.”

The government of Pakistan and the authorities are helpless in front of influential child traffickers from the country.

According to the senior experts and some human rights activists in the country there is a strong need of stern action by the government against this inhumanity these people who are disgracing the humanity.

Beside these unlucky children that have been forcefully enslaved and used in the mischievous activities by the gangsters and mafias there are scores of children every year smuggled into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Pakistan to work as camel jockeys.

Pakistan was considered to be a hub of child trafficking a couple of years back and after the strong efforts by the human rights organizations, international NGOs and media the government tried to repatriate these trafficked children from United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to the sources and collecting facts and figures since 2002 to 2010 almost 1000 children have been trafficked to United Arab Emirates from the Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh areas as majority of the children were from the Rahim Yar Khan, a backward district of Punjab.

The government of Pakistan after the issues were highlighted by the NGOs and media managed to repatriate all these children and in June 2010 the last trafficked child came back to his home.

There are several NGOs working against the child trafficking in Pakistan but they cannot get the fruitful results as there are difference among the statistics complied with by the impendent sources and by the Non Government Organizations.


About the Author:
Malik Ayub Sumbal is a freelance investigative journalist based in Islamabad working for foreign media and can be contacted at his email

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-028-2011
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Inhuman & degrading treatment,