CHITRAL, March 23: Human trafficking of Chitrali girls in the garb of marriage goes on unchecked for the last two decades by the professional traffickers who take advantage of the poverty, ignorance and weaker social fabric of the area.
A study recently conducted by Regional Women Empowerment Project of Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) suggested that the 74 per cent of the marriage of Chitrali girls with down-district people especially in Punjab proved to be fake.
It says that the trafficking of women is done for exploitative domestic servitude while there has been ample evidence of using Chitrali women in the abhorrent prostitution trade.
The study reveals the regrettable fact that if a woman becomes victim of trafficking, she compromises with the situation due to the fact that neither her family nor family will accept her reintegration if she discloses it.
Regarding the down-country grooms, it informs that majority of them were above 50 years of age and married and introduce themselves as high ranking government officers or land and business magnates.
Unveiling the trafficking mechanism, the study puts the local ‘middlemen’ in the centre of the business who introduce the groom to the girl’s family and also provide accommodation, food and transportation to him till the marriage is solemnized.
The middlemen mostly target the households with poor financial condition suffering from abject poverty and lure the girls and her parents or guardians by presenting a bright future of the girl where she will roll in luxury and her days of poverty will come to an end.
“The poor victims have no exposure to the down-country and its people but they hold a wrong perception that all the down-country people are affluent and noble”, the study goes and adds that these down-trodden and gullible people have no source of information to verify the claims of the prospective grooms.
About the rate of payment made to the parents or guardians in lieu of their daughter or ward, it ranges from 50 thousand to half a million rupees depending upon the young age and fair complexion of the girl but more than fifty percent of it goes to the middleman.
Citing an example of such a marriage, a middleman in upper Chitral reportedly grabbed 52 thousand rupees out of the 62 thousand rupees which the groom had paid to him for payment to the parents as per procedure.
Giving the characteristics of the vulnerable girls based on field research, it counts them as unemployment, illiteracy, more number of sisters in a family, orphans and without proper guardian and lack of information and exposure.
About the factors of the women trafficking, the field study attributed to poverty, attraction of city life and facilities, negative customs and traditions, lack of verification mechanism of the grooms, legal framework and family disorder.
The situation of the victim was said to be more unfortunate and appalling as given in the study which tells that they are rejected both by her own family and the society making them more vulnerable to the abuse as she is exploited on her return from the down-country after her divorce.
The study suggests that mass awareness program must be launched about the nefarious activities of the middlemen who exploit the poor parents and for this purpose all the civil society organizations must be sensitized.
Proper mechanism should be devised to check the information as claimed by the groom and local legislation must be made to discourage and bring to book the middlemen, says the study.
Economic empowerment of women folk must be ensured by the government and non-government agencies so that they could not be a burden on others and contribute to the prosperity of their respective families on the other.–Dawn