Washington: Militants in Pakistan “often sexually and physically abuse” the children they kidnap or fraudulently take away for spying or suicide bombing purposes, a US State Department report has said.
The 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report says that in Pakistan, “non-state militant groups kidnap children or coerce parents with fraudulent promises into giving away children as young as 12 to spy, fight, or die as suicide bombers in Pakistan and Afghanistan”.
“The militants often sexually and physically abuse the children and use psychological coercion to convince the children that the acts they commit are justified,” the report adds.
The report describes Pakistan as a “source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking,” noting that the country’s largest human trafficking problem is bonded labour, concentrated in the Sindh and Punjab provinces in agriculture and brick making, and to a lesser extent in the mining, carpet-making, glass bangle, and fishing industries.
The Asian Development Bank estimates that 1.8 million Pakistanis – one percent of the population – are bonded labourers.
There are reports of child sex trafficking between Iran and Pakistan, says the State Department’s report, adding that Pakistani girls and women also are sold into forced marriages - in some cases their new “husbands” move them across Pakistani borders and force them into prostitution.
News organisations, NGOs, and international organisations reported that the 2010 floods contributed to increased trafficking in Pakistan.
The report has placed Pakistan among Tier 2 countries - those nations whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
According to the report, the Pakistan Government continued its programs to prevent and combat bonded labour, but did not criminally convict any bonded labour offenders or officials who facilitated trafficking in persons, the report points out.
“The government continued to lack adequate procedures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and adequate protection for these victims,” it added.