The launch on Tuesday of a unique thematic group on human trafficking in Pakistan by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is intended to bring key stakeholders together so that a plan of action can be developed to combat the growing menace, according to an IOM official.
"The idea is to bring together key stakeholders so they can chalk out the policies and mechanisms together to manage it in this country," Shameela Ahmed, the project coordinator for the group, told IRIN in the capital, Islamabad.
The thematic group, which is being formed under the "Development of a Conceptual Framework and Strategies to Combat Trafficking" project funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented by IOM in Pakistan, aims to bring all the stakeholders together so that a plan of action can be developed, Ahmed added.
"The Thematic Group will also develop guidelines and policies and strategies to bolster the ordinance on human trafficking which is already in place," she explained.
One of the main service areas of the IOM is the fight against human trafficking which is an exploitative form of irregular migration involving the violation of migrant's human rights, an IOM media release said.
Pakistan has long been a destination and transit point for the trafficking of women and children in the region. Trafficking in human beings is a global phenomenon and, according to the Geneva-based organisation, an estimated 900,000 people are trafficked each year, while an untold number are trafficked within their countries.
In 2002, police recovered 11 infants - the oldest barely 18 months - from a middle-class Karachi suburb where the kidnappers were making preparations to smuggle the babies to Malaysia for a reported price tag of US $20,000 each.
Such children, according to social workers and law-enforcement officials, often end up being sold into prostitution or crime rings; or end up as camel-jockeys in the Middle East.
For women who are trafficked, conditions are not much better with most being sold into prostitution. Rights activists say human trafficking thrives unchallenged because countries in the region do not have proper legislation to deal with the problem, nor the will to implement existing laws. But all that is likely to change, given a more proactive approach to the problem by the Pakistani government, according to Ahmed.
"The thing is that the government is also taking interest to counter this problem. The most important thing is not the promulgation of the ordinances - the implementation is what matters," Ahmed said.
Ahmed said the IOM was very hopeful that the thematic group would be able to bear dividends as a similar project had done earlier in Bangladesh.
"This is not just a group from a particular sector, everyone comes from different sectors: the government sector, the social sector. We are looking towards really developing strategies and forming policies and assisting the government in combating this menace. The government has already realised that this is a problem in this country," she stressed.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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