[Stop-traffic] Pakistan: Trafficking & Sale of Bangladeshi & Burmese Women

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Pakistan: Trafficking & Sale of Bangladeshi & Burmese Women
From: Harsh Kapoor (aiindex@mnet.fr)
Date: Mon Aug 07 2000 - 18:33:38 EDT


FYI
Harsh Kapoor
(South Asia Citizens Web)
http://www.mnet.fr/aiindex
----------------------------------------
The below Article was published recently in Frontier Post, Peshawar, Pakistan
[Please note the date for this article is missing !]

WOMEN SOLD LIKE ANIMALS

By Ahmar Mustikhan

Sale of women is taking place on a mass scale in Pakistan, and at least one
journalist who bared the faces of those involved in the heinous crime has
been murdered. The organisations dealing with human rights also say that
police have implicated innocent persons in the journalist's murder case to
protect the real culprits.

Human traffickers bring destitute Bangladeshi and Burmese women into
Pakistan on the promise of getting them decent jobs, but once here they are
sold to third parties, mostly for the purpose of prostitution. These women
are escorted all the way through India, some distances on foot, to reach
Pakistan.

One such thriving market is in the remote town of Thar, bordering Indian
Rajasthan, where at least one former minister and two members of the
disbanded parliament maintain huge stakes in the women-selling business.

According to Shaheen Burney in the district of Thar, women were being sold
in a market much in the way that animals are sold in a livestock market
"where buyers literally scan and examine the women before paying their
prices humiliating, molesting and sexually harassing these unfortunate
women in the open market."The women include those abducted from the
province of Punjab. According to an NGO chief, once their sexual utility
was over for one buyer, these victim women were resold to subsequent buyers.

"These women are compelled to live a miserable and humiliating life
afterwards, along with their illegitimate children, as those who bought
them usually resell them when they are no longer required."Lawyers for
human rights and legal aid chief Zia Awan said the sale of women was not
restricted to Thar alone.

"Visit any Bengali or Burmese slum in Karachi and you can buy women
there," he said. Nearly half of Karachi's 12 million people live in slum
areas, and according to government statistics, 2.5 million of them are
illegal aliens.

Awan said thousands of women are being sold in the underworld for the
purpose of either being a prostitute or a domestic servant for life. He
says that there is a tradition of selling women in the garb of "bride
money" in some tribal belts of Pakistan, where a man could buy a girl
one-third his age after paying the parents the money they want. The sale of
women also has an ominous international dimension.

"Innocent women who are sold in the underworld are also being used to
carry drugs to foreign destinations," Zia said. Zia said non-governmental
organisations working in the fields of women's and children's rights in
south Asia have coalesced to form a network called Resistance, and a draft
is awaiting signature by the governments of the South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation. SAARC comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal,
Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

"This is a major breakthrough, as the SAARC government's signature would
mean the states acknowledge for the first time that trafficking of women
and children was a cross border problem that knows no frontiers in South
Asia," said Zia. Resistance has joined hands with SANFEC (South Asian
Network for Food, Ecology and Culture), said Zia, as the sale and
trafficking of women and children is directly linked also to the issue of
food sovereignty.

"Studies have shown that farmers driven to despair, either because of
mechanisation of agriculture, use of bio-technology or any natural
disaster, are forced to sell their women and children to save themselves
from starving to death," Zia explained.

The global Human Rights Watch has an ongoing campaign against the
business, saying, "Trafficking in persons the illegal and highly
profitable recruitment, transport or sale of human beings for the purpose
of exploiting their labour is a slavery-like practice that must be
eliminated."

Frontier Post, Pakistan

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