KARACHI: Sindh government, in its efforts to implement laws to protect women and children against exploitation, registered 1,261 cases of kidnapping women for forced marriages in 2014.
This figure was shared Sindh Police’s DIG Crime Aftab Pathan at a consultative workshop organised by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sindh here on Tuesday.
“Five of the abductors were convicted while 369 have been put up for trial. Another 45 cases of abduction of children under 10 were also registered. One case of abduction where the victim was subjected to grievous hurt was also lodged,” DIG Pathan said.
Stakeholders at the workshop said a joint task force is urgently needed in Sindh to counter ‘trafficking in person’ (TIP) which is registering an increase due to poor implementation of relevant laws.
The participants, including representatives of NGOs, lawyers, Sindh Police, Child and Women Protection and Labour Welfare Departments and concerned agencies, regretted the existent state of denial in the society towards the issue of human trafficking.
Human traffickers go scot-free
FIA Sindh Deputy Director (Anti-Human Trafficking Circle) Ashfaq Alam referred to numerous cases where people being trafficked, within the country as well as those being smuggled abroad, were retrieved and culprits arrested – yet the latter got away scot-free while being tried.
He said that there were no facilities or shelter homes for the unfortunate souls could be placed for a while and provided with necessary guidance and support from not being trapped again by human traffickers.
The FIA official regretted that a similar fate awaited thousands of bonded labour freed by the agency who badly need temporary shelter and long term rehabilitation.
Provision for shelters, capacity building of judicial officers, lack of coordination between concerned departments, in particular context of FIA and Police, absence of any data base and so-forth were some of the hurdles in reducing human trafficking.
“The lack of adequate shelter and no rehabilitation strategy has compelled many trafficking victims to return to one or the other captors,” the official regretted.
DIG South, Abdul Khaliq Shaikh, acknowledging the fact that police holds extreme relevance in handling TIP cases, said the issue was largely considered to fall into FIA’s domain.
He attributed human trafficking as a consequence of poverty that was also closely linked to child labour, bonded labour, violence against marginalised sections, street children and other such socio-economic issues.
The senior police officer referred to incorporation of an updated “human rights manual” in the training curriculum for Sindh police.
Activist Akmal Wasim, running a legal support services extensively reviewed lacunae in the existent system and sought urgency to address the situation through close coordination among all stakeholders.
Seema Nazli from the Social Welfare Department (Child Protection Unit) referred to cases of adoption of local children by foreigners and regretted that despite no relevant laws, vulnerable kids were being given into the custody of foreigners by lower courts.
The provincial government official said human trafficking which also involved minors and marginalised sections of the society is a challenge that can be addressed through collective efforts.
Advocate Zia Ahmed Awan, Sarim Burney, Bushra Gohar and others present on the occasion also shared their views with the consensus that concerted and coordinated efforts are needed to help address the issue on strong lines.