PAKISTAN: Super floods make children and women vulnerable to trafficking 

Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following article from ASHOKA Pakistan , written by Mr. Amir Murtaza.

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong

An article from Amir Murtaza forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Super floods make children and women vulnerable to trafficking

The 2010 super floods, which literally ravaged many rural parts of the country, brought countless miseries to the inhabitants of a large number of Pakistani population. It has become very clear that besides provision of shelter, food, clean water and medicines the issue of the protection of women and child rights is increasingly taking attention of civil society organizations as well as government functionaries. However, it is understood that a clear lack in planning, coordination mechanism and concrete measures make children and women vulnerable to all imaginable sorts of violence, including the violence of trafficking.

Mohammad Anwar, a social development consultant, informed that according to definition, trafficking is the recruitment, transfer, transport, harboring or receipt with or without consent, bogus marriages, false adoptions and kidnapping with a view to exploit women and children in bonded and illegal labor, domestic work, begging, slavish marriages, sex-tourism and entertainment and prostitution for the benefit of traffickers and crime- syndicate. He added that child trafficking means taking the victim with or without consent within or across the borders for the purpose of prostitution, marriages, forced and bonded labor.

Mohammad Ali, President of Karachi based Roshni Missing Children Helpline, informed, “hundreds of children went missing during and after the 2005 earthquake and many of them have not been recovered so far. It has been reported that a large majority of these missing children are boys age between 3 to 10 years, and girls age between 12 to 18 years old. Newspapers and NGOs reports believed that a number of these missing children were illegally trafficked.”

He further informed that after the horrible earthquake of 2005 it was expected that in the years to come, children and women’s vulnerability due to disasters will increase in manifolds. Mohammad Ali of Roshni Helpline added that recent calamity struck the defenseless, notably children and women, very hard and even their own survival has become questionable.

News reports estimate 10 million people became vulnerable as the gushing water forced them to vacate their houses and lands and take refuge in relief camps. At least 50% of the total displaced population consists of women and children and such displacement has certainly increased their vulnerability to internal as well as external trafficking.

Asghar Shah, an International law expert, informed that trafficking in women and children flagrantly violates the following rights.

  • Right to life and security of persons
  • Right to freedom of movement
  • Right to equal protection under the law
  • Right not to be subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Right to the highest standards of health

Najam Usman, an NGO worker in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, observed that in many areas of the country, the high flood water had given very few time to local population to leave their houses and unfortunately even in such chaotic situation the male family members only wanted to safe their most precious asset; the domestic animals. He added a number of missing children and women cases were reported after the massive earthquake of 2005. He said as the displaced families of 2010 floods getting settled in relief camps reports of missing children and women started getting surfaced.

In Sindh province where at least 700,000 people are living in makeshift camps and the threat of women and child trafficking is looming large. Asif Haroon, a Karachi based journalist, observed that a large number of people from rural areas of Sindh are in relief camps located in different parts of Karachi. He said since poverty is widespread among these people therefore they are easily lured by the organized crime groups. The Karachi based journalist further added that in recent time there is a considerable increase in number of beggars on the streets of Karachi and a majority of them are flood affectees’ children and women.

Mohammad Ali of Roshni Missing Children Helpline informed that trafficking victims remain involved in variety of exploitative work, including the following.

  • Begging
  • Domestic work
  • Sex industry
  • Organ transplant
  • Forced labor
  • Drug smuggling

Roshni Missing Children Helpline has visited several relief camps in Karachi, Thatta, Dadu, and Sukkur to investigate and actually understand the ground realties. The Helpline informed that during the visits the organization registered more than 26 cases of missing children. Among these 26 missing children cases, 21 were boys, age between 5 to16, whereas 5 were girls, age between 12 to 17 years. It was further informed that the organization has managed to recover 3 children; however, 23 children are still missing. The organization further reported that according to National Disaster Management Authority, around 400 children went missing during the flood emergency.

Various NGOs and CBOs, especially working in rural areas of Sindh province, also showed their concern over the increasing number of missing children and women. It was also divulged that due to peculiar social setting and high intensity of the issue of ‘honor’ in interior parts of Sindh, many families are visibly reluctant to report the cases of their missing girls.

Civil society organizations are trying to collect the details of missing women and children in all flood affected areas of the county. However, a detailed and rapid assessment is required to quantify the severity of the issue of children and women trafficking in flood affected areas of Pakistan.
By: Amir Murtaza, Email:

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. The above statement has only been forwarded by the AHRC.

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Document Type : Forwarded Article
Document ID : AHRC-FAT-049-2010
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Child rights, Women's rights,