We live in a world that has accepted man’s absolute control over another making him prone to go in for the unjustified trade and enslavement of another human being. We face a degenerate state of affairs which confirms that the greatest ethical challenge that we face today is human trafficking. Human trafficking is a global phenomenon that manifests in the form of sex trafficking, bonded labor, and organ traffic. Poverty lies at the heart of all human trafficking. It has become an organized billion dollar industry and has at its core investors who are unscrupulous recruiters and corrupt public officials as principal participants.

Exploiters take advantage of the environment of the victims and lure them with false promises of a better life. Blind faith lead victims to the pit of darkness as caution is compromised because of desperation. The unjust, age-old practice of bonded labor, where labor is provided as a means of repayment of loan with very little or no pay is predominantly prevalent in developing countries. Descent and caste-based discrimination, poverty, illiteracy and lack of government welfare schemes lie at the heart of this contemporary form of slavery.

One of the ugliest manifestations of debt bondage is forced child labor seen in mining, silk, and carpet industries of Pakistan and as camel jockeys in United Arab Emirate [UAE] countries. Children are gullible and can be easily threatened or manipulated. They are forced to take up their parents’ responsibility of repayment of debt and are unfairly denied education during their nurturing years. In war torn countries, children are abducted and made to join militias.

Organ trafficking is a relatively new misdemeanor which has plagued the world. Demand for human organs far exceeds the supply resulting in surfacing of conniving middlemen or agents who scheme with unscrupulous medical professionals to cheat the poor. These people are unaware of the medical consequences of organ donation and give their consent out of desperate need for money.

Human trafficking is more or less a structured industry with both demand and supply sides. Lack of political will to immediately address the root causes of human trafficking has led to its expansion. Governments must realize that every individual has the right to life, which includes right to food, education and employment and therefore must make provisions for the same. In Pakistan and other developing countries, to combat slavery, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the financial, political and cultural power structures in society. States can set up commissions, along with NGOs, to conduct comprehensive surveys and identify people involved in all forms of human trafficking. This will help in the rescue and rehabilitation processes.


Lahore, November 30.