[16days_discussion] [WorkingWithBoysandMen] FW: International migration and woman trafficking

Laxman Belbase l.belbase at gmail.com
Thu Jul 2 00:28:42 EDT 2009

International migration and woman trafficking

By: Muhammad Mohsin Iqbal

Source: The New Nation

URL: http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/06/25/news0097.htm

Posted date: 25 June 2009

Humanity has throughout its history moved from one place to another,
exchanged goods and explored unknown territories and cultures. Much of
today´s migration stems from the keen desire of millions of impoverished
people for opportunities and a better life not available at habitat.
Migration around the world is impelled by inequality, poverty and
marginalization. In this context, the adoption of increasingly restrictive
migration policies will make millions vulnerable to exploitation or
trafficking for various purposes. Trafficking in persons in the twenty-first
century alike of slavery: a monstrous crime against the dignity and human
rights of its victims. The international community is charged with combating
and eradicating it. It is therefore vital to focus on identifying and
protecting victims as well as prosecuting and convicting traffickers in each
country. The impact of xenophobia, racism and related forms of intolerance,
phenomena now on the rise along with the increase in migration flows.

A migrant worker is someone who regularly works away from home, if they even
have a home. Although the United Nations' use of this term overlaps with
'foreign worker', the use of the term within the United States is more
specific. In the United States, the term is most commonly used to describe
low-wage workers performing manual labor in the agriculture field. Today in
Europe and the United States these are often immigrants who are not working
on valid work visas. The term migrant worker sometimes may be used to
describe any worker who moves from one seasonal job to another. The "United
Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers
and Members of Their Families" defines migrant worker as follows:

"The term "migrant worker" refers to a person who is engaged or has been
engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a

According to an International Labour Organization estimate, up to 86 million
people around the world are migrant workers. Migrant workers include those
who have moved voluntarily in search of economic opportunities, refugees and
asylum-seekers who are in paid employment in countries other than their own
and people trafficked for the purpose of labour exploitation.
Many migrant workers are vulnerable to human rights abuses including
restrictions to their freedom of movement, arbitrary detention,
discrimination, harassment and physical or sexual violence. Female migrant
workers typically leave their countries for better living conditions and
better payment. But the real benefit accrues to both the host countries and
the countries of origin for home countries money sent home by migrant
workers is an important source of hard currency. While receiving countries
are able to find workers for low paying jobs in the Middle East and the
Persian Gulf region, there are estimated 1.2 million women, mainly Asian who
are employed as domestic servants.

According to the independent human rights group Middle East watched, female
migrant workers in Kuwait often suffer beating, sexual assault at the hands
of their employers. In the Gulf States, female migrant domestic workers are
excluded from the protection of labour laws and are at risk of being
subjected to rape or other sexual violence by their employers. Rape victims
do not normally obtain justice and are often not given access to legal
advice and adequate interpretation. A climate of impunity exists that allows
perpetrators of crimes against migrant domestic workers to go unpunished. In
Thailand for example, migrant workers are routinely paid far less than the
Thai minimum wage and work in inhumane conditions. Those demanding labour
rights are often arrested and deported as a means of punishment.

The Migrant Workers Convention protects all migrant workers and members of
their families regardless of whether they are registered with authorities or
undocumented. The Convention entered into force in July 2003 and sets out
the obligations and responsibilities of migrant workers´ countries of
origin, host states and states which migrant workers transit through.

Twenty-seven states, most of which are from the developing world, have
ratified the Migrant Workers Convention. On the occasion of International
Migrants Day on 18 December 2004 urges all states, particularly
industrialized countries, to follow suit. It also urges signatories of the
Convention to fully and effectively implement its provisions and promptly
reports progress to the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All
Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

Trafficking human beings around the globe has become as lucrative as the
illegal arms and drugs trade, generating annual revenues ranging between $5
billion and $9 billion. Lured by such high profits, human traffickers have
put in place very well organized networks across source, transit, and
destination countries. An estimated 600,000 to 820,000 men, women, and
children are being trafficked across international borders each year,
according to US State Department data. A majority of this estimated number
is believed to comprise women and children.

The reason why women and children are primary targets for traffickers is
that they can in turn be sold to cater to a variety of needs ranging from
sex-slavery to menial labour. Women and children trafficked within the
confines of national borders may be used to settle disputes, or sold off to
begging mafias. Recently trafficked women are also suspected of being used
to operate ´baby farms´, which cater to the growing demand for adoption in
richer countries. Incidences of trafficking being linked to organ trade have
also been reported.

Most of the traffickers, recruiters and agents often have links with
politicians and other influential people within the establishment, which
enables them to continue their operations without fear.

The trafficking of human beings is, in fact, inextricably linked to
multidimensional socio-economic and legislative inadequacies. The lowly
status of poor people in many societies, the institutionalization of
exploitative gender practices, and the ineffectiveness of legal protection
are some of the evident underlying factors that enable human trafficking to
occur. The increasing influence of consumerism seems to have led large
families with contracting economical resources to begin viewing their
children as marketable commodities. In many cases, women and children have
been sold off to human traffickers by their own parents, guardians and
husbands. Or else, they are deceived to illegally cross borders lured by the
supposed prospects of a better life.

Like other developing countries Pakistan has poverty, illiteracy, population
growth, unplanned urbanization, unemployment, gender discrimination
dysfunctional families, rural-urban as well as cross-border migration, and
non prevalence of a comprehensive social security and support system. All
these problems are contributing factors for promotion of human trafficking.
There is no authentic data available on the subject but the existence of the
problem is a recognized phenomenon. Pakistan is being used as transit as
well as destination state for human cargo. Evidence for both transit and
source trafficking from Pakistan is available. During last 10 years,
estimated number of 200,000 women and girls, between 12-30, has been
trafficked from Bangladesh to Pakistan. Motives behind trafficking of
children are to use them as prostitution, child labor, slavery or bounded
labor, beggars, entertainment (camel jockey, forced marriage) and for organ
trade. Thousands of young children from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
are victims of cross-border trafficking to the Gulf States for being
employed as camel jockeys. The FIA immigration staff has made hectic efforts
to nab the carriers taking kids to Middle East and have registered 62 cases
against 94 such agents.

Camel racing was a traditional desert sport of Beduin tribes. Today, the
desert racing rules have been modified for modern racetracks. The
unfortunate aspect of this sport is the usage of innocent children as camel
jockeys in these races. UNICEF and non-government campaigners say the
children often die or are severely injured as they are tied to the camel´s
back of scare the camel into running faster. The ages to these children are
between 5 to 12 years. These innocent camel jockeys were trafficked from
various countries of Asia to UAE by the human traffickers, who were either
kidnapped by these traffickers or poor parents present their children for
some money. The countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have been
targets for these human traffickers.

The situation is quite worse for Pakistan as in the recent past hundreds of
children were trafficked to UAE for these races to be used as camel jockeys.
Analysis of the information transpired that most of these children belong to
Districts Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur. Both the districts comprise of
desert areas.

Geographical and climatic similarities of both countries i.e. UAE and
Pakistan, especially desert conditions of District Rahimyar Khan and

Children of these localities are more familiar with camel riding


Unemployment and lack of opportunities

Contacts of UAE nationals with the inhabitants of above two Districts

Ignorance of trafficking consequences for camel races

The modus operandi of smuggling of the children is as under:-
Most of the children were smuggled by Agents with fake parents. In this
regard, they firstly prepare Nikah Nama, Birth Certificate, "B" Form and get
endorsed those children on fake mother´s passports.

In some cases the real parent´s smuggle their own children. Agents only
facilitate them to get documents and visa etc.

The real parents arranged Ziarat Visa of Iran and trafficked the children
via Quetta - Iran and ultimately reach UAE.

The UAE Government has banned the use of children as Camel Jockeys below 45
Kg in weight and 14 years of age. During the year 2005, 185 camel jockey
children have been deported from UAE. Among them 101 children have been
handed over to their parents and 84 are still in the custody of Child
Protection and Welfare Bureau Government of Punjab, Lahore. Up till now, 69
cases have been registered in FIA, Passport Circle, Lahore during the year
2005. In these cases 34 Fathers and 15 Mothers have been arrested as
facilitators. During investigation, 3 agents and 3 sub-agents were also
arrested and they are still in Judicial Lockup. Reportedly two agents have
expired, while all the facilitators are on bail. Few identified agents are
still at large. Cases are under investigation and up till now challans in 25
cases have been submitted in the trial court. No accused has been convicted
or acquitted.

The issue of Trafficking of Women and Children in Pakistan is grave and
complex and needs to be addressed at various levels. Pakistan has improved
its anti-trafficking performance over the reporting period. The first
essential step was enacting appropriate and comprehensive counter
trafficking legislation and instituting an effective law enforcement
mechanism. Human trafficking has been criminalized through the enactment of
the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance 2002 (PCHTO 2002)
Pakistan has increased trafficking-related prosecutions and convictions,
strengthened implementation of its 2002 Prevention and Control of Human
Trafficking Ordinance, established an Anti-Trafficking Unit (ATU) within the
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and co-sponsored several public
awareness campaigns. The performance of ATU as follows:

Year Total number of human smugglers/traffickers arrested
2005 - 1006
2006 - 1462
2007 - 1526
2008 - 1642

The International Organization for Migration has supported further measures
to combat human trafficking in Pakistan. Besides stressing the need for
conducting a national survey to assess the human trafficking situation, the
IOM has been supporting training of law enforcement agencies to take
effective action against this issue, and it has created a model shelter for
the protection of victims of trafficking.

While these are positive developments, addressing the supply and demand side
of this phenomenon at the same time is not so easy. It requires close
coordination between various line departments to ensure that adequate
deterrents and punitive measures become evident on ground, despite the
resource constraints.

The Government of Pakistan made some progress in its anti-trafficking
prevention initiatives over the year. Following the October 2005 earthquake,
the government sent Federal Anti- Trafficking Units to earthquake-affected
areas of the country to prevent the trafficking of orphaned or otherwise
vulnerable children. The government also established an identification
system used at airports to monitor immigration patterns for signs of
trafficking. Prominent radio and television appearances by the Minister of
Overseas Pakistanis raised awareness of the trafficking of Pakistani
nationals abroad, and the government, with assistance from IOM and foreign
donors, undertook a targeted information campaign to educate people living
in the rural areas affected by the earthquake on the dangers of trafficking.

A SAARC-level Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women
and Children was prepared by a coalition of different stakeholders including
NGOs, politicians, legal experts and academics. Adoption of this Convention
also took place in 2002 at its 11th SAARC Summit.

Dynamic progress to eradicate human trafficking in Pakistan

Article (11) of the constitution which prohibits slavery, forced labor

Slavery is non existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate
in any form.

2. All forms of forced labor and traffic in human beings is prohibited.

Article (25) that deals with discrimination against any citizen. states:

1. "All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection
of law".

3. "Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from making any
provision for the protection of women and children".

Section 370, Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 Buying or disposing of any person as
a slave: "Whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells or disposes of any
person as slave, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description
for a term which may extend to seven years and shall be liable to fine"

Section 371, Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 Habitual dealing in slaves:

"Whoever habitually imports, exports removes, buys, sells, traffics or deals
in slaves, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with
imprisonment of either description for term not exceeding ten years, shall
be liable to fine".

National Data Base registration Authority (NADRA) has been created to
computerize particulars of citizens for issuance of National Identity Cards,
which will minimize the chances of forgery in National Identity Cards.

National Alienation Registration Authority has been set up to register
foreigners especially from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka.

New security features in passports are being introduced to discourage

Immigration check posts are being computerized to check illegal immigration.

Possession of false documents has been made illegal not only in PPC but also
in Immigration Ordinance, 1979 and Passport Act, 1974.

Law Commission considered addition of section 371 A in the PPC 1860 as
follows: - "373-A Trafficking in Children for engaging as camel jockey".

Setting up of an Inter Ministerial Committee on formulation of an effective
policy and legislation to combat the trafficking of children for use as
camel jockeys in Middle East

Poverty Alleviation Programmes

10 year perspective plan having provision of shelter house

Speedy trial of cases registered against Human Traffickers.

Recently a special team was deputed to arrest the notorious agents involved
in this heinous offence. The team visited different localities of District
Rahimyar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan to arrest the culprits but
unfortunately due to incomplete/fake addresses of the agents provided by
facilitators desired results could not be achieved.

UNICEF and Government of Punjab in collaboration with OPF are helping and
coordinating the repatriation of Camel Jockeys from UAE to Pakistan.
Government of Punjab has set up a Child Protection and Welfare Bureau where
these children are stationed. These children are handed over to the parents
by the competent court as per law.

All the staff/officers posted at Immigration Check-posts have been briefed
to keep an eye on the profile of down trodden ladies accompanying children
bound for UAE.

Special emphasis is being given to the illegal trafficking through Pak -
Iran border. For this purpose a close liaison has been established with the
agencies like F.C., Coast Guards, Levies, and District Police, as envisaged
under the charter of Task Force established for this purpose under the
Director General FIA.

Cooperation between FIA and law enforcement is being enhanced at regional
and international level for exchange of information and legal action against
the organized gangs operating internationally.

Coordination and cooperation has been enhanced between various Government
agencies and departments through meetings, conference and seminars.

Awareness is being enhanced in general public through print and electronic
All high profile cases/arrested accused are given vide coverage in the press
which is giving strong message to the culprits and also causing awareness in
the general public.

Salient Features of Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance
2002 of (P&CHTO)
i. It clearly defines the offence of human trafficking in all its forms and
manifestations (Section-2).

ii. All offenses under this Ordinance have been declared as cognizable,
non-bail able &
non-compoundable. (Section-8).

iii. It provides a mechanism for the security and welfare of the victims of
trafficking with the assistance of NGOs (Rule-4).

iv. It provides compensation to victims (Section-6).

v. It provides severe punishments against the offenders, repeaters and
organized gangs, which may extend to a maximum punishment of 14 years

Government of Pakistan has also notified Rules under this Ordinance called
Prevention & Control of Human Trafficking Rules 2005, which provide
guidelines for dealing with issues relating to support to the victim".

Parliamentarians should play an active role, particularly in formulating
policies and legislative oversight for the protection of human rights of
immigrant and implementation of their policies. Legislation is almost
available in every country to check the illegal trafficking of human being.
However its implication is complicated and at times, human trafficking
agents successfully violate these rules and due to legal intricacies they
defend themselves in the courts and continue their business and remain

There are no quick fixes or universal answers to these challenges but
certain principles must always be kept in mind. On this basis, the following
recommendations are as follows:

1. As human beings, migrants are entitled to enjoyment of life. States have
an obligation to provide adequate housing, recreational facilities, health
care, education and other essential services for migrants and their

2. 2. Migrants have the same right as all people to self-determination. As
far as possible, migrants should be in charge of their own migration,
protected from coercive, fraudulent or exploitative recruitment processes.
Protected but not controlled.

3. 3. Ensuring the gender sensitive approach to development and in the
management of migration is mandatory. Through the gender sensitive lens, the
rights of migrant workers include:

4. a) The right to integrity of body and soul, in particular the right to be
free from of all physical, psychological, and sexual violence;

5. b) The rights to be free from gender-based discrimination; and

6. c) The right to obtain reproductive health services and to obtain
appropriate assistance in the event of sexual and gender based violence.

7. 4. Migrant workers and their families are accorded specific rights and
protections under the 1990 Convention on the Protection of Human Rights of
All Migrant Workers and their Families. This convention is one of the core
international human rights conventions and should be adopted and enforced at
the national levels.

8. 5. Migrant workers are also workers and entitled to enjoy the benefit of
the International Labour Standards in member States of the International
Labour Organisation, in particular the Fundamental Conventions on Forced
Labor (Conventions 29 and 105).

9. 6. The rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are
enshrined in human rights law and international labour law. They are
essential to defend workers from exploitation. Migrant workers are entitled
to these rights and we urge governments to ensure their protection.

7. Governments should protect workers in the informal sector under National
labour laws and take measures to monitor the conditions of work. In view of
the increased demand for foreign migrant domestic workers around the world,
the Governments are to recognize domestic work (household work) as work and
to reform national labour laws to include protection of domestic workers

8. Immigration controls, such as categorizing migrants or preventing their
entry, on the basis of race, class or gender is contrary to basic human
rights principles. The discriminatory closing of borders only contributes to
irregular migration and the vulnerability of migrant workers to
exploitation. The egregious crime of human trafficking is fuelled by such
policies. States are to implement non-discriminatory open-border policies
and classifications, which are not to the detriment of migrant workers.

9. Trafficking and migration are separate but intimately linked. Trafficking
results from a number of injustices that force the movement of certain
peoples and leave them vulnerable to abuse: inequality within and between
countries, gender inequality, development policies that disenfranchise
populations, immigration policies that try to prevent such movement and the
toleration of exploitative work practices in destination countries. Adopting
a human rights approach to all policies on development, migration and labour
is the only way to truly combat and prevent trafficking. For individuals who
have been exploited through the migration process, states should establish
services to protect these individuals.

10) The exploitation of migrant workers often occurs in an environment of
xenophobia and discrimination, in which migrants are considered lesser and
not due the same rights or entitlements as the nationals of a State. To
reduce these dangerous notions, the governments:

i. To implement public education campaigns to raise awareness on the rights
of migrant workers and emphasize that migrant worker are human beings.

ii. To provide training to all stakeholders in the migration process,
including border police, health workers, security agencies etc on the rights
of migrants and to reduce discrimination.

iii. To take effective action against discriminatory or xenophobic behaviour
directed towards migrants.

iv. To ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination and reform laws and policies in line with the
obligations under this convention.

11. All victims of violations and abuses, either by the State or non-state
actors have a right to access to justice and to redress. Ensuring access to
justice is a non-derogable obligation. States are to provide avenues for
effective, non-discriminatory and timely justice for all migrant workers who
suffer exploitation and abuse, including victims of human trafficking.
Appropriate compensation should be provided for all migrants who are victims
of abuse and crime, including for abused women migrant domestic workers,
migrant rights defenders, and victims of trafficking.

12. Measures should be taken to allow migrants to return home voluntarily
where they are liable to arrest and deportation for immigration violations.
Where deportation is enforced, the dignity and safety of migrants must be
respected during arrest, detention and deportation. Mass deportations cause
mass suffering, accidents and human rights violations and should be avoided
at all costs. No migrant should be deported to a country where their safety
on return might be threatened by the authorities of the country of origin.

13. Ensure that embassies and consulates of countries of origin directly
take responsibility for protecting, the rights, welfare and well being of
all migrants. All embassies should set up Labour attaché units, trained and
sensitized to the needs of the migrants.

14. Migrants´ remittances are making significant contributions to the
development of countries of origin. The Migrants, and not the remittances,
should be recognized for this contribution and measures should be taken to
facilitate the sending of remittances in the fairest way possible. The
governments are to:

(a) Demand a reduction in the transfer fees on transfers from migrants to
their home countries.
(b) Give migrant workers access to banks and financial institutions in
destination countries so that they can save and remit the money as they

15. Develop regulations regarding recruiting agencies and organized
brokering by:
(a) Abolishing visa-trading practices.
(b) Monitoring recruitment and brokerage agencies to ensure protection of
the rights of migrant workers.
(c) Ensuring access to remedies and redress for migrants who have suffered
violations of their rights. In particular, traffickers of people should be
brought effectively to justice, and the protection of victims of trafficking
must be ensured by states of origin, transit and destination.

16. The establishment of bilateral and multilateral agreements can
facilitate development strategies of origin and destination countries, while
also protecting the rights of migrant workers. The governments are to follow
best practice examples of such agreements, which incorporate rights
protections in accordance with the 1990 Migrant Workers Convention.

17. The states are to end practices of arbitrary, indefinite or prolonged
detention and abuse of deportees, and to guarantee their safe return to
their home countries.
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