Prevalence of Child Trafficking

Child trafficking in Pakistan is a complex issue that remains prevalent in various forms, including forced labor, sexual exploitation, and other exploitative practices.  The hidden nature of many trafficking practices, coupled with social acceptance of certain exploitative norms, leads to significant underreporting and difficulty in accurately assessing the scale of the problem. A report from the Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) highlights the scale of the problem. Between January 1, 2023, and April 30, 2023, there were 221 cases of child trafficking reported in Punjab alone. Additionally, Sindh police registered 214 cases of child trafficking in 2022​. In 2022, the government of Pakistan reported investigating 1,936 trafficking cases under the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (PTPA), with 856 cases involving sex trafficking and 988 involving forced labor.

Many cases of child trafficking are not recorded under specific trafficking laws but are instead registered under other offenses in the Pakistan Penal Code or labor laws. This misclassification leads to significant underreporting and obscures the true scale of the problem. Additionally, the overlapping legal frameworks and the lack of comprehensive data contribute to the difficulty in accurately assessing the prevalence of child trafficking.

In some cases, child trafficking is masked by cultural and social norms, which can lead to certain exploitative practices being socially acceptable and thus not recognized or treated as trafficking. For instance, child domestic labor is often seen as a norm rather than a form of exploitation. Similarly, children exploited for commercial sex work are frequently hidden within illicit networks and only come to attention when law enforcement intervenes.


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