Tearing through the crowd, the girl took giant leaps and cared not to look back. She nudged people past and kept on sprinting forward, her face pale and woebegone. Three broad, burly and brawny men were chasing her. In the wink of an eye, they gripped her and pierced her arm with a syringe. Immediately after getting injected, she slumped lifelessly into her captors’ arms; her blank, faraway eyes staring into nothingness. She was dragged into a van just like a child maltreats a ragdoll. It all happened in front of nearly a hundred gawkers looking on. Soon I realised that the girl was kidnapped. I wondered how such gruesome crimes were being committed with such brazenness.

Those living in metropolitan areas of Pakistanare oblivious to the throes of poverty. Vices like child labour, beggary, human trafficking are seen everywhere. Out of all these prevalent criminal acts, the menace of human trafficking is by far the worst, but, unfortunately, the least addressed one. What is human trafficking ? It is the abducting of humans for slavery, to work as farmers and even commercial sex. What makes this crime even more grievous is the conditions in which the victims are made to work. The trafficked people are exposed to harrowing conditions that negatively impact their physical, mental and emotional health.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing activities in the transnational criminal activities. This inhumane business is present all over the globe especially in the Third World countries. According to statistics, a whopping amount of $927 million is generated annually from this business in Pakistan alone.

As global citizens of the twenty-first century, it is our fundamental duty to break our own cocoon of safety and ensure that we do not evade our responsibility in this regard. Instead of turning a blind eye to such grave truths and harsh realities, we must take measures to protect and safeguard basic human rights of every citizen of our world.

Another gruelling aspect of this menace is the trading of humans as cheap labour. We need to understand the dynamics in a society where people are traded just to earn some filthy money. Bangladesh takes the first spot on the list of countries having high rates of human trafficking . The country not only has a huge number of illegal trafficking rings but also nearly eight hundred legally-operating recruiting agencies that often exploit their clients while sending them abroad for work, forcing them into free labour by debts. In our own country too traffickers use tools such as physical violence, psychological coercion and forced isolation, often seizing travel and identification documents of their victims. They even force Pakistani women and girls into prostitution in the Middle East and Europe. Media have also reported the cases of child and sex trafficking between Iran and Pakistan. In addition, Pakistan is also a destination for men, women and children from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Iran and here they are subjected to forced labour and even prostitution. Do these innocent people, in any case, deserve this abuse? No, not at all!

Think of Shazia Masih, who was trafficked in 2010 to work as a domestic servant. She died that same year with her body bruised, leaving all the sane and benevolent people tearful. The question is, “Why some people are in such a dire need of money that they are ready to even sell a daughter or a son?” The answer is simple: 29.5 percent of Pakistan’s population lives below the poverty line. They do not have access even to basic healthcare and if a poor person falls ill, he has no other option but to borrow money with unbelievably high interest rates. Strong, active and robust judicial system is sine qua non for creating a just society. In Pakistan, unfortunately, law-enforcement agencies are chronically weak and inept, so injustice is omnipresent in our society. We need to bring vigilant and ambitious people into these organisations, if we want to bring perpetrators and criminals responsible for these heinous acts to the book and make them face the music for every wrong deed they commit.

Success in achieving this task will enable us to break the huge rings of criminals. This is the only way to save our future. In addition, we need to provide the people of Pakistan with healthcare facilities. Proper shelter and safe homes must be provided to the underprivileged, especially the victims of human trafficking as a symbol of our empathy and affection for them. In Pakistan, we already have some organisations and people who work to help the poor. But that’s not all; we have to take stern measures to stop this issue from becoming a hydra that would haunt us for many years to come.

We need also to establish institution after the pattern of National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom to help victims of human trafficking . Similarly, we need to have help lines and agencies working particularly to curb this problem. As individuals, we must volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in our community. We must launch campaigns to create awareness among the people on this burning issue. In addition, organising fundraisers and donating the proceeds to some credible anti-trafficking organisations can also be very helpful in augmenting our efforts to save our compatriots from the claws of human trafficking .