LAHORE:The Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) organised an awareness session at the Lahore College for Women University titled: “Women as a Primary Victim: Combating Trafficking in Persons and Modern-Day Slavery in Pakistan”. The aim of the seminar was to give awareness on the definition of trafficking, its causes, and the socioeconomic factors linked to it, as well as its context and policy landscape in Pakistan.
Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department Minister Dr Muhammad Akhtar Malik, while appreciating the SSDO efforts said that the government encouraged civil society organisations’ role in curbing the menace of human trafficking. He said that the PTI chief Imran Khan had realised the miseries of neglected segment of society and set up Panahgah and Langar Khana for them to save their prestige. He said that Pakistan is facing the menace of human trafficking in terms of child labour, smuggling and sexual abuse which demanded implementation of relevant laws to curb this issue. He urged media and educational institutions to raise awareness about the intensity of human trafficking amongst students. He lamented that the drug-users seen on roads were ignored by the government and society which have foremost duty to make them responsible citizens after their rehabilitation.
Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director SSDO, discussed that when SSDO originally started this project in 2021, very little attention was given to this issue, and at that time, zero FIRs were registered. Now, thanks to SSDO’s efforts and work with different stakeholders, including the police, 337 cases have been registered in Punjab. He also discussed how due to the prevailing socio-economic situation in Pakistan, many people are lured into trafficking through the pretense of being offered employment abroad.
Ayesha Iqbal, MPA agreed that women were highly susceptible of being trafficked, and that there must be awareness programmes for them in this regard. Moreover, she also urged women to take self-defence classes, and be very aware of their surroundings and vigilant. She also stated that reporting all such crimes is our individual responsibility and all of us must play our part, while the government and policymakers are working to ensure the strict implementation of laws.
This seminar was conducted by Dr Farhan Naveed, an expert on this issue. He also discussed that from a research perspective, there is still a dearth of accurate statistics and data about trafficking in persons in Pakistan.