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Child-Trafficking: A Dilemma

By Javeria Zafar Rana - Legislative Intern SSDO

Although the traditional slavery has been condemned throughout the world but Human Trafficking is the modern form of slavery. Illegal bargaining or trading of anything is labelled as smuggling whereas when this very action is performed with the human beings, it is termed as ‘Human Trafficking’. By definition, it is a sheer violation of basic human rights. Under human trafficking, the custom of Child Trafficking is the worst of all societal norms. Children are vulnerable and innocent, which is why they can be easily targeted and shaped.

Child trafficking is a global issue. It takes place in all its forms and means. Forced child labour is also a part of child trafficking. It involves the process of recruiting children at work, far away from home and their families. and especially in circumstances within which the children can easily be exploited in several ways. Forced labour, sexual exploitation, children in armed forces, drug trades, adoption, child begging, child exchange and child sale are the types of child trafficking.

There are certain treaties which protect children including civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights. One of the treaties is United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly known as UNCRC-1990). It defines that the child is anyone under the age of eighteen years.

International Labor Organization (ILO) also adopted in 1999 the convention for elimination of the worst forms of child labor. It includes all the forms of slavery, sale of children, child trafficking, debt bondage, and compulsory labor like recruitment in armed conflicts, child prostitution and pornography, children used by adults for commission of crimes.

The worst forms of child labor include any work that exposes children to sexual abuse (physically or psychologically) or that is done underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces or that is done with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools or that involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads. The worst forms also comprise of any work that is done in an unhealthy environment or that is done under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (also referred to as the Trafficking Protocol or UN TIP Protocol-2003) is a protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is responsible for implementing the protocol. It offers practical help to states with drafting laws, creating comprehensive national anti-trafficking strategies, and assisting with resources to implement them.

Pakistan tried to implement the provisions UN conventions and took many administrative, judicial and legislative measures. The government prepared a National Plan of Action (NPA) for Child Protection including the issues of child sexual abuse, exploitation, child pornography and prostitution, health, shelter, poverty, child labor, education and child mortality. A child protection bill was also drafted in 2006 to provide an institutional framework. The Juvenile Justice System Ordinance was enacted in 2000 and deals with children who come into conflict with the law. Corporal Punishment is prohibited in the government schools.

The issue of child trafficking is rooted in the multidimensional factors associated with socio-economic, political, cultural, and educational aspects. The factors behind the child trafficking vary nation to nation and region to region. However, some common causes especially in third world country are the lack of education of parents, large family size, low income, deterioration of institutional norms, lack of relevant laws, and deficient implementation in both the source communities and destination locations. The passive role of print & electronic media as well as the social media is also contributing this menace.

With the active participation of family empowerment, capacity building, awareness building, provision of basic education, social protection and shelter and poverty alleviation can solve this issue to some extent. The rehabilitative measures may be taken by the government in collaboration with NGOs for the vulnerable communities and victims throughout the world.

Children are the future of any nation and their protection is the first and foremost concern of any nation. For elimination of child trafficking, the whole world must stand side by side.

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