ISLAMABAD: Women and children in Pakistan are trafficked for sexual exploitation, sometimes in the form of forced marriages, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Wednesday after the conclusion of a conference on trafficking in persons.
UNODC, with the support of the United States Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, organized the second Public-Private Partnership Conference on Trafficking in Persons in collaboration with Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The aim of the conference is to enhance collaboration among key government stakeholders and the private sector, including civil society, non-governmental organizations, and private corporations.
“To help minimize trafficking in persons, UNODC and FIA have been working in close collaboration for many years,” the UN agency said in a statement. “As partners both UNODC and FIA realize it is important to take all stakeholders, from both public and private sectors, onboard to fight trafficking.”
In a 2018 report, the US Department of State had said Pakistan was taking insufficient measures against trafficking, including weak prosecution and lack of action against influential persons.
In his opening remarks at Wednesday’s conference, FIA Additional Director General Immigration Ahmed Mukkarram appreciated the efforts of UNODC and the assistance provided by the US Department of State to combat trafficking.
“It is with these efforts that the law against Trafficking in Persons has been enacted in Pakistan,” the UN statement said quoting Mukkarram who added that such engagement helped improve communication and raised awareness.
“Partnership between governments and the private sector in preventing and fighting all forms of trafficking in persons has become the need of the hour,” said Davor Raus, a crime officer at UNODC in Vienna. “It is with collective efforts that we can defeat the menace and make the world a safer place.”
Naveed Ahmad Shinwari, a UNODC consultant, pointed out the lack of coordination between the government, civil society, and the private sector in combating trafficking in persons.
“Every sector is making efforts to fight this menace, but no coordination exists between relevant stakeholders to address this issue holistically,” Shinwari said.
Samantha Novick and Andrea Balint at the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons also participated in the conference and said UNODC and FIA looked forward to addressing trafficking in persons in a collaborative way, and facilitating stakeholders to address gaps in policy and its implementation.