KARACHI, Pakistan — Sale of women is taking place on a mass scale in
Pakistan, and at least one journalist who bared the faces of those
involved in the heinous crime has been murdered, human rights
organizations have told WorldNetDaily.

The organizations also say that police have implicated innocent
persons in the journalist’s murder case to protect the real culprits.

Human traffickers bring destitute Bangladeshi and Burmese women into
Pakistan on the promise of getting them decent jobs, but once here they
are sold to third parties, mostly for the purpose of prostitution. These
women are escorted all the way through India, some distances on foot, to
reach Pakistan.

One such thriving market is in the remote town of Thar, bordering
Indian Rajashtan, where at least one former minister and two members of
the disbanded parliament maintain huge stakes in the women-selling
business, according to the human rights non-governmental organization
Ansar Burney Welfare Trust International.

Shaheen Burney, vice chairperson of Welfare Trust International,
deplored that the selling was taking place with impunity, despite the
fact that the trust had informed Pakistan’s high officials, including
Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf, about the crimes.

Shaheen said that in the district of Thar, women were being sold in a
market much in the way that animals are sold in a livestock market
“where buyers literally scan and examine the women before paying their
prices … humiliating, molesting and sexually harassing these
unfortunate women in the open market.”

She said the women include those abducted from the province of
Punjab. According to Shaheen, once their sexual utility was over for one
buyer, these victim women were resold to subsequent buyers.

“These women are compelled to live a miserable and humiliating life
afterwards, along with their illegitimate children, as those who bought
them usually resell them when they are no longer required,” says
Shaheen.

Shaheen demanded a thorough, high-level inquiry into the murder of
senior journalist Sufi Muhammad Khan in Thar’s neighboring Badin
district, as she believes his murder was linked to his expose of
prominent citizens’ involvement in the racket. She warned that if
immediate action was not taken by the government to stop the gory
business, her trust would raise the issue in international forums.

Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid chief Zia Awan said the sale
of women was not restricted to Thar alone.

“Visit any Bengali or Burmese slum in Karachi and you can buy women
there,” he said. Nearly half of Karachi’s 12 million people live in slum
areas, and according to government statistics, 2.5 million of them are
illegal aliens.

Awan said thousands of women are being sold in the underworld for the
purpose of either being a prostitute or a domestic servant for life. He
says that there is a tradition of selling women in the garb of “bride
money” in some tribal belts of Pakistan, where a man could buy a girl
one-third his age after paying the parents the money they want.

The sale of women also has an ominous international dimension.

“Innocent women who are sold in the underworld are also being used to
carry drugs to foreign destinations,” Zia said. He pointed out that
purchased women from Pakistan’s remote towns of Multan and Rahim Yar
Khan are sent to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj, or Muslim pilgrimage,
season to bring in riyals.

Zia said non-governmental organizations working in the fields of
women’s and children’s rights in south Asia have coalesced to form a
network called Resistance, and a draft is awaiting signature by the
governments of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
SAARC comprises India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka
and Maldives.

“This is a major breakthrough, as the SAARC government’s signature
would mean the states acknowledge for the first time that trafficking of
women and children was a cross border problem that knows no frontiers in
South Asia,” said Zia.

Resistance has joined hands with SANFEC (South Asian Network for
Food, Ecology and Culture), said Zia, as the sale and trafficking of
women and children is directly linked also to the issue of food
sovereignty.

“Studies have shown that farmers driven to despair, either because of
mechanization of agriculture, use of bio-technology or any natural
disaster, are forced to sell their women and children to save themselves
from starving to death,” Zia explained.

The global Human Rights Watch has an ongoing campaign against the
business, saying, “Trafficking in persons — the illegal and highly
profitable recruitment, transport or sale of human beings for the
purpose of exploiting their labor — is a slavery-like practice that
must be eliminated.”

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Ahmar Mustikhan is a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.

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