January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized each year on January 11th. Blue Campaign’s largest initiative is #WearBlueDay on January 11th. To raise awareness of human trafficking, wear blue clothing on January 11th, and raise awareness on social media with the #WearBlueDay hashtag. Anyone can participate!
The Department of Labor's annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:
Children in Pakistan are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and forced domestic work, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also engage in forced labor in brick kilns and agriculture. The federal government and Balochistan Province have not established a minimum age for work or hazardous work in compliance with international standards. In addition, provincial labor inspectorates do not receive sufficient resources to adequately enforce laws prohibiting child labor, and the federal and provincial governments did not publicly release information on their labor and criminal law enforcement efforts. Further, police corruption, particularly the taking of bribes from suspected perpetrators to ignore child labor crimes and lack of willingness to conduct criminal investigations, hindered Pakistan's ability to address the problem throughout the country.
Many child domestic workers work under conditions of forced labor, including debt bondage, sexual assault, and extreme physical abuse. (2,3,28,29) Poor rural families sometimes sell their children into domestic servitude or other types of work, or pay agents to arrange for such work, often believing their child would work under decent conditions. Children are also kidnapped or sold into organized begging rings, domestic servitude, gangs, and child sex trafficking. (44,45) Reports estimate that around 70 percent of bonded laborers in Pakistan are children. (44,46) Some children work with their families as bonded laborers in the production of bricks. (3,4,24,38,39) Begging ringmasters sometimes maim children to earn more money or force children to steal, and organized criminal groups force children into drug trafficking in Sindh and Balochistan. Research has found that due to the consistent lack of law enforcement efforts against those who exploited street children, including in forced labor and sex trafficking, traffickers operated openly and with impunity. (3,39,44)
Research found that in Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan, agriculture, brick kiln, fisheries, poultry, mining, construction, domestic labor, and carpet making industries oftentimes failed to follow labor laws with no or little government oversight. Small- and medium-size businesses—particularly those operated in private homes and not subject to inspections, such as shops, garages, and jewelry manufacturers—employed child labor. (47) Afghan, Iranian, and Pakistani children, particularly from Dalbadin and Quetta in Balochistan, are used in drug trafficking operations across the Iranian and Afghan borders with Balochistan, and in parts of Karachi. Children are also used in smuggling operations along the Afghan border with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. (47)
Various factors can compound vulnerability to child labor, including: religious minority and caste status (marginalized minority communities, such as Christian and Hindu Dalits, are likely to be less educated, to lack land or other assets, and to be discriminated against by their surrounding communities, police, and judicial systems); and gender (women, including transgender women, are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking). (47) Child laborers in Pakistan, particularly boys, are frequently subjected to commercial sexual exploitation at their places of employment, including in factories, workshops, mines, or while scavenging on the streets. (48) They are also sometimes subjected to sexual exploitation in order to obtain or keep their jobs or accommodations. (39,48) Research indicates that in Kasur, a city in Punjab Province where sexual exploitation of children is considered to be among the highest in the country, 90 percent of working children under age 14 have been sexually harassed or exploited. (3,48,49) The practice of bacha bazi, in which boys are forced to provide social and sexual entertainment for older men, is a form of commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers in Pakistan also promise Pakistani boys admission to Afghan religious schools only to sell them to Afghan security forces for the purpose of sexual exploitation. (39,50)
Children in Pakistan face several barriers to education. Of significant concern is the sexual abuse of children in Pakistan's madrassas—Islamic religious schools that provide free education and meals to Pakistan's poorest children. (49,51,52) There are more than 22,000 registered madrassas in the country, and an estimated 2,000– 3,000 unregistered madrassas; sexual abuse in madrassas significantly hinders the ability of a large number of Pakistani children to attend school and receive an education. (49,51) In addition, non-state armed militant groups—Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, its splinter groups, and ISIL-KP (ISIL Khorasan Province)—forcibly recruited and used children in terrorist activities, including suicide attacks. Further, while research found that the total number of terrorist attacks against schools have continued to decrease since 2009, schools in Pakistan may still be vulnerable to attacks by unknown armed groups, disrupting children's access to education. (3,9,15,39,44,45,53- 58) The government operated a center in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to rehabilitate, educate, and reintegrate former child soldiers. (45) Many other children face barriers to accessing education, including high rates of teacher absenteeism, inadequate facilities, lack of transportation, school fees, and corporal punishment, which may deter children from attending school. (3,9,54,57,59,60) Lastly, while children are not legally required to have a birth certificate to enroll in public or private school, research indicates that some private schools may still require children to present their birth certificate to enroll. (3,44) Only 31 percent of births in Pakistan are officially registered. Children without a birth certificate who cannot enroll in school are at much higher risk of becoming victims of exploitative labor conditions. (61)
The government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations (Table 5). However, gaps exist within the operations of enforcement agencies that may hinder adequate enforcement of their child labor laws.
District Vigilance Committees (DVCs) are functioning in all of Punjab Province's 36 districts (conducting 259 meetings during the reporting period), and in 29 districts in Sindh Province (only 9 DVCs convened and none met regularly). (39,44,106) However, research has found that though the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act (BLSA) mandated the creation of DVCs in each province to ensure implementation of the BLSA, including reporting and filing cases, the government relied on bonded labor victims to have knowledge of the BLSA, proactively leave their landowners, and file their own cases in the court. Even when bonded laborers did so, the courts either did not act on such claims or handled them administratively, and, as a result, human trafficking victims who came forward often faced retaliation from their exploitative employers. (39) In 2020, the government funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor (Table 10). However, gaps exist in these social programs, including the adequacy of programs to address the full scope of the problem. The social programs of the federal and provincial governments are insufficient to address the prevalence and scope of Pakistan's child labor problem. Existing programs also do not provide enough protection and rehabilitation services for bonded child laborers and child victims of human trafficking. (39,144) Government initiatives are needed to specifically target child labor in the informal sector, including child labor and forced child labor in domestic work. (120) In addition, there is no significant social program to address sexual abuse of child workers or children attending madrassas in Pakistan.
According to UNICEF, Pakistan has nearly 19 million child brides. The UN children's agency estimates that around 4.6 million were married before the age of 15 and 18.9 million before they turned 18. Nov 27, 2022
Source: Why underage marriages are still prevalent in Pakistan
“January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Every year since 2010, the US President has dedicated the month to raising awareness about the different forms of human trafficking, also known as modern slavery, and educating people about this crime and how to spot it. In January, the Department of State raises awareness of human trafficking domestically and abroad through U.S. embassies and consulates. We also celebrate the efforts of anti-trafficking organizations, communities of faith, state and local law enforcement, survivor advocates, businesses, and private citizens all around the world to promote this important cause. Everyone can play a part in ending human trafficking.”
Understanding Human Trafficking
FACT SHEET-US Department of State:
“Trafficking in persons,” “human trafficking,” and “modern slavery” are umbrella terms – often used interchangeably – to refer to a crime whereby traffickers exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children by compelling them to perform labor or engage in commercial sex. When a person younger than 18 is used to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion.
The United States recognizes two primary forms of trafficking in persons: forced labor and sex trafficking.
Forced labor, also referred to as “labor trafficking,” encompasses the range of activities involved when a person uses force, fraud, or coercion to obtain the labor or services of another person.
The “acts” element of forced labor is met when the trafficker recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services.
The “means” element of forced labor includes a trafficker’s use of force, fraud, or coercion. The coercive scheme can include threats of force, debt manipulation, withholding of pay, confiscation of identity documents, psychological coercion, reputational harm, manipulation of the use of addictive substances, threats to other people, or other forms of coercion.
The “purpose” element focuses on the perpetrator’s goal to secure labor or services. There is no limit on the location or type of industry. Traffickers can commit this crime in any sector or setting, whether legal or illicit, including but not limited to agricultural fields, factories, restaurants, hotels, massage parlors, retail stores, fishing vessels, mines, private homes, or drug trafficking operations.
All three elements are essential to constitute the crime of forced labor.
There are certain types of forced labor that are frequently distinguished for emphasis or because they are widespread:
“Domestic servitude” is a form of forced labor in which the trafficker requires a victim to perform work in a private residence. Such circumstances create unique vulnerabilities. Domestic workers are often isolated and may work alone in a house. Their employer often controls their access to food, transportation, and housing. What happens in a private residence is hidden from the world – including from law enforcement and labor inspectors – resulting in barriers to victim identification. Foreign domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to language and cultural barriers, as well as a lack of community ties. Some perpetrators use these types of conditions as part of their coercive schemes to compel the labor of domestic workers with little risk of detection.
Neither U.S. law nor international law requires that a trafficker or victim move across a border for a human trafficking offense to take place. Trafficking in persons is a crime of exploitation and coercion, and not movement. Traffickers can use schemes that take victims hundreds of miles away from their homes or exploit them in the same neighborhoods where they were born.
“Debt bondage” is focused on human trafficking crimes in which the trafficker’s primary means of coercion is debt manipulation. U.S. law prohibits perpetrators from using debts as part of their scheme, plan, or pattern to compel a person to work or engage in commercial sex. Traffickers target some individuals with an initial debt assumed willingly as a condition of future employment, while in certain countries traffickers tell individuals they “inherited” the debt from relatives. Traffickers can also manipulate debts after the economic relationship begins by withholding earnings or forcing the victim to assume debts for expenses like food, housing, or transportation. They can also manipulate debts a victim owes to other people. When traffickers use debts as a means to compel labor or commercial sex, they have committed a crime.
Forced Child Labor
The term “forced child labor” describes forced labor schemes in which traffickers compel children to work. Traffickers often target children because they are more vulnerable. Although some children may legally engage in certain forms of work, forcing or coercing children to work remains illegal. Forms of slavery or slavery-like practices – including the sale of children, forced or compulsory child labor, and debt bondage and serfdom of children – continue to exist, despite legal prohibitions and widespread condemnation. Some indicators of forced labor of a child include situations in which the child appears to be in the custody of a non-family member and the child’s work financially benefits someone outside the child’s family; or the denial of food, rest, or schooling to a child who is working.
Human Trafficking Indicators:
While not an exhaustive list, these are some key red flags that could alert you to a potential trafficking situation that should be reported:
Living with employer
Poor living conditions
Multiple people in cramped space
Inability to speak to individual alone
Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
Employer is holding identity documents
Signs of physical abuse
Submissive or fearful
Unpaid or paid very little
Under 18 and in prostitution
20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking:
The Blue Heart Campaign’s goal is to inspire people and mobilize support for action against human trafficking by international organizations, governments, civil society, the private sector and ultimately by individuals. The Blue Heart also aims to enable citizens to show their support for the cause and to increase understanding of the issue of human trafficking in order to spur coordinated actions to fight the crime.
$99 Billion per year made from sex trafficking
4.5 Million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation
$51 Billion per year from use of forced labor
21 Million people worldwide are now victims of forced labor
1 in 6 endangered runaways reported in the U.S. are likely to become sex trafficking victims
Female victims forced into domestic servitude are often sexually exploited as well
CHILDREN: 20% Of human trafficking victims are children
HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION MONTH TOOLKIT
#Partner2Prevent hashtag #EndTrafficking #HumanTrafficking #ForcedLabor #LaborTrafficking #SexTrafficking #endtrafficking #freedomfirst
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