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Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Pakistan

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Pakistan, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Pakistan is a significant source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Pakistan faces a considerable internal trafficking problem reportedly involving thousands of women and children trafficked to settle debts and disputes, or forced into sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. According to one NGO, children as young as six years old are forced into domestic service, and face physical and sexual abuse. Bonded labor is a large internal problem in Pakistan; unconfirmed estimates of Pakistani victims of bonded labor, including men, women, and children, are in the millions. A sizeable number of Pakistani women and men migrate voluntarily to the Gulf, Iran, Turkey and Greece for work as domestic servants or construction workers. Once abroad however, some find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude or debt bondage, including restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. In addition, some NGOs contend that Pakistani girls are trafficked to the Middle East for sexual exploitation. Pakistan is also a destination for women and children from Bangladesh, India, Burma, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgz Republic, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Burma are trafficked through Pakistan to the Gulf.

The Government of Pakistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Pakistan is placed on Tier 2 for its limited efforts to combat trafficking in persons over the last year, particularly in the area of law enforcement. Although the government continued to prosecute some traffickers, it did not demonstrate efforts to address the serious issues of bonded labor and other forms of labor trafficking, such as forced child labor and trafficking of migrant workers by fraudulent labor recruiters. Punishments assigned to convicted traffickers were also weak. In addition, the government failed to provide protection services to victims of forced labor.

Recommendations for Pakistan: Significantly increase law enforcement activities against bonded labor, forced child labor, and fraudulent labor recruiting for purposes of trafficking; vigorously investigate, prosecute, and punish acts of government complicity in trafficking at all levels; increase sentences of convicted traffickers; and expand victim protection services to include victims of forced labor and male victims of trafficking.


The Government of Pakistan made insufficient law enforcement efforts to address trafficking this year. Pakistan prohibits all forms of transnational trafficking in persons through the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance (PACHTO); the ordinance's prescribed penalties range from seven to 14 years' imprisonment. The government also uses Sections 17-23 of the Emigration Ordinance to prosecute internal cases of trafficking. In addition, the Bonded Labor System Abolition Act prohibits bonded labor, with prescribed penalties ranging from two to five years' imprisonment and/or a fine. Prescribed penalties for trafficking in persons are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as rape.

Pakistan did not demonstrate any significant law enforcement efforts against labor trafficking. Though Pakistan has a substantial problem of bonded labor – estimated to affect over one million victims – the government did not provide evidence of any arrests, prosecutions, convictions, or punishments for bonded labor. Similarly, the government did not confirm how many, if any, prosecutions or punishments occurred during the reporting period for other acts of forced labor, including fraudulent labor recruitment and forced child labor. With respect to sex trafficking, during the reporting period, the government convicted 52 trafficking offenders – 13 fewer than last year – under the PACHTO; the majority of the sentences, however, ranged from fines to six months' imprisonment, and as such, were not sufficiently stringent. Four traffickers received sentences of six months to two years' imprisonment, and one trafficker was sentenced to two to ten years' imprisonment. Given the extent of trafficking complicity by law enforcement officers, Pakistan announced a "zero tolerance" policy for government officials found to be complicit in trafficking, and applied it to two agents who were convicted and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. Nonetheless, the government did not report systemic efforts to investigate, prosecute, and criminally punish trafficking complicity.


This year, the government's efforts to protect victims of trafficking were inadequate. Pakistan did not report any programs to identify and protect victims of forced labor – the largest sector of Pakistan's trafficking victims – particularly bonded labor and child labor in informal industries such as domestic work. Male victims of trafficking, such as some boys exploited in prostitution, also did not receive government protection services. Protection for victims of commercial sexual exploitation remained limited; internally trafficked women and victims outside of the capital city could access any of 276 government centers offering medical treatment, vocational training and legal assistance to women and children. Pakistan provided limited assistance to foreign victims of sex trafficking by referring them to an IOM shelter; during the reporting period, the IOM shelter provided comprehensive care to 22 victims. The government also encouraged these victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers by permitting them to seek employment while awaiting trial. Foreign victims reportedly are not prosecuted or deported for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked, but some victims may still be subject to punishment for fornication, even as victims of sex trafficking. The government does not provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis provides limited assistance to repatriated Pakistani trafficking victims, such as medical, legal, and financial assistance.


Pakistan made some efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the reporting period. The government continued to air television, radio, and newspaper announcements warning of the dangers of trafficking children for camel jockeying in the Gulf. IOM, in conjunction with the Ministries of Interior and Social Welfare and Special Education, conducted theater performances in high-risk areas as a way of raising public awareness of the threats and consequences of trafficking. Pakistan continues to monitor airports for trafficking patterns and potential victims. The government, however, did not take any reported measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Pakistan has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Pakistan tier ranking by year

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