Pakistan Guilty of Supporting ‘Modern Slavery’ – But What Exactly Does It Mean?

While the world chants slogans of equality and freedom, Pakistan is still among the top three countries with the highest percentage of modern slavery. What is modern slavery and why has it formed strong roots in the country?

As per the report by ILO last year, Pakistan is among the top 10 out of 167 countries facing the curse of modern slavery. In accordance with the definition, the word modern slavery has many manifestations. Under the category comes labour trafficking, forced labour, sex and child sex trafficking, debt bondage, bonded labour, domestic servitude (in the form of domestic work), forced child labour, child begging, unlawful recruitment and child soldiers and state-imposed forced labour.

The findings say that over 40 million people today are affected by modern slavery. Among them 25 million are indulged in forced labour, other 15 million are victims of forced marriages. Unfortunately, the results are also showing a sharp trend of gender disparity as 71 pc of the people are women and girls, while 25 pc are children. The statistics are quite alarming. As in Pakistan modern slavery victims are 2.134 million that makes up about 1.13 pc of the total population.

In terms of absolute numbers, Pakistan was ranked 3 out of 167 countries in the index standing below India and China only. The current census also suggests that the potential number of victims may rise as well. The elimination of modern slavery by the year 2030 is a part of Sustainable Development Goals, which Pakistan is a part of. In Pakistan, the curse dominantly ranges and is observed in brick kilns, carpet weaving industries, and agriculture and coal mine. (Source: DAWN)

Another significant finding of the study suggested that employers use multiple forms of coercion against the victims. About one-third of them had their wages withheld which is why they were unable to leave, due to threats of non-payment. Another form of coercion used is violence, that is usually physical or threats against the family.

Though ignored, the area definitely needs urgent addressal at the governmental level to ensure fundamental rights for all human beings. With Pakistan being among very few numbered countries where the practice is still widely accepted and encouraged, we need to show our seriousness towards tackling the issue by raising awareness, formulating effective labour laws and ensuring their implementation.

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