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The Slave Children of Pakistan

Picture taken from SOS Children’s Villages website

Prostitution is defined as the act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual

relations for money. Unfortunately in Pakistan, this definition takes a different approach

because for the most part, the main victims are practicing the oldest profession not by

preference but rather by imposition. There are up to one million children trapped as sex

slaves. What is the reason these innocent victims are forced to perform as adults when

they are just children. Poverty plays a huge roll on the development of prostitution, also

the lack of education in a country where only men have rights and finally the absence of

government interaction.

According to Wikipedia,”10% of the population is chronically poor

and about 33% is considered vulnerable and likely to sink into

poverty.” Another internet resource named Frontpagemag.com stayed

”unemployment rates as high as 28% for youths between the age of 15

– 29 and 43% for youths between 15 – 20 prostitution is often a way

out of poverty for the children of Pakistan.” Women and children are forced

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into prostitution while simply looking for a plate of food, clothes, money, and in some

cases drugs. Some addicted parents sell their children to support their drug habits and in

some cases even pimp their own children who often end up supporting their families. The

Dancing Girls of Lahore by Louise Brown tells the story of Maha, and her life as a

prostitute in Lahore. “He paid so much for me, two lakh”-200,000 rupees ($3372) - “and

I was only 12”. “She can’t remember much about the event because she was sedated, but

she knows she wasn’t with him for long: perhaps only an hour. The she was taken to a

younger man- someone much younger and much more handsome. He liked her a lot and

kept her in his bed for a month”. Maha is now 30 and she has five kids, all from different

men. Four of them are girls and she is preparing them for the future. Her daughters will

take on her customers and they will support her the same way she has been supporting

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her family for the past eighteen years.

Picture taken from SOS Children’s Villages Website

The lack of education is other main component of this equation, according to

www.unicefpakistan.com “in a country where 22% of girls over the age of 10 have

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completed primary schooling compared to 47% of boys.” The reason for this is because

most parents do not believe woman should receive an education, they believe the

female’s role is to serve their husbands. As the Aurat foundation said put it: "the girl is a

liability; at an early age the girl child is made aware that she is only a temporary member of

the family. Any skills she learns will benefit not her own family but her in-laws." (Quarterly

Newsletter, Aurat Foundation, Vol.I, 2, 1989)

The level of education of this country is so low that if a child is a victim of rape, he/she

can not go back to their house because they are considered impure. These children are left

with the only choice of living on the streets, where they are targets of pimps that are in

the business of making money. Traffickers target girls between the ages of 13 and 17,

although there are some reports of girls as young as 8. This too has a lot to do with the

high number of teens who are running away from home due to some domestic abuse,

parental drug addiction, and in some cases running from the police. Another astonishing

fact is that only a third of all Pakistani children under the age of five were registered at

birth in a country with a population of 162,419,946. Due to the lack of education these

children are exposed to high-risk pregnancies, drugs and alcohol abuse, sexually

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transmitted diseases and other harmful things.

Picture taken from SOS Children’s Villages Website

The lack of legal support is another major factor that stimulates the trafficking of

young children. The improper implementation of the law, and the need of stricter laws

which protect children rights, play an important role in the increase of child prostitution.

In a country where the criminal age is seven, children are sometimes detained in jails

together with adults, where they are physically abused and sometimes raped.

Unfortunately, these crimes can not be punished unless they can prove that the child did

not give their consent, and sadly, these children are sometimes prosecuted for

extramarital or premarital sex. The Pakistani law against sexual offences is so severe, that

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prostitutes having sex outside marriage have to call their customers husbands, despite the

fact that men can have up to five wives and women can only have one husband, there is

not equality between men and women.

Picture taken from SOS Children’s Villages Website

The slave trade in Africa was officially banned in the early 1880’s, but the horrors

of children being exploited in Pakistan are a reminder of cruelty on the twenty first

century. In the past years there has been a movement in Pakistan to end the exploitation

of so many innocents, change will not come overnight, but the first step is to fully put a

stop to this horror. In conclusion, there are a lot of changes that need to be made, but

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those changes can not be made until the government is willing to recognize and do

something about the trafficking and prostitution of children.

Sources:

1. www.frontpagemag.com

2. The Dancing Girls of Lahore. Copyright 2005 by Louise Brown

3. Wikipedia website

4. pictures from SOS Children’s Villages (The worlds largest Orphan Charity)

5. www.unicefpakistan.com

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