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Samina.jpg

Samina

It is estimated that over 3 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in Pakistan (GSI 2018). Children are subjected to modern slavery in the form of forced marriage. It is estimated that 21% of girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18. Child marriage in the country is connected with tradition, culture and custom. It occasionally involves the transfer of money, settlement of debts or exchange of daughters sanctioned by a Jirga or Panchayat.Samina was forced into child marriage as her parents could not afford to support nine girls. 

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Yesmien Ali

The Global Slavery Index estimates that there were 136,000 people living in modern slavery in the United Kingdom (UK) on any given day in 2016, reflecting a prevalence rate of 2.1 victims for every thousand people in the country. According to a 2018 report by the Home Office, in 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,196 cases. These figures include contact that has been made to the FMU through the public helpline or by email in relation to a new case. Since 2012, the FMU has provided support to between 1,200 and 1,400 cases per year. At 12 Ali was engaged to a 24-year-old relative from her mother’s side of the family. At 16, she was sent to Pakistan for a shotgun marriage. The abuses Ali suffered during her months in Kashmir, at her mother-in-law’s hands, left her permanently blind in one eye and led to her missing the chance to pay her last respects to her dying father.

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Ayesha Khan

The Global Slavery Index estimates that there were 136,000 people living in modern slavery in the United Kingdom (UK) on any given day in 2016, reflecting a prevalence rate of 2.1 victims for every thousand people in the country. According to a 2018 report by the Home Office, in 2018, the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) gave advice or support related to a possible forced marriage in 1,196 cases. These figures include contact that has been made to the FMU through the public helpline or by email in relation to a new case. Since 2012, the FMU has provided support to between 1,200 and 1,400 cases per year. At 18, Khan ran away from home, beginning a year-long cat-and-mouse chase with her paternal uncles.

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Hania

It is estimated that over 3 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in Pakistan (GSI 2018). Children are subjected to modern slavery in the form of forced marriage. It is estimated that 21% of girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18. Child marriage in the country is connected with tradition, culture and custom. It occasionally involves the transfer of money, settlement of debts or exchange of daughters sanctioned by a Jirga or Panchayat.     This woman tells of how despite asking to continue with her education, at the age if 19 was forced to travel to Pakistan to marry. Despite being subjected to physical violence, this woman’s family maintained that she must stay with her husband. After five years, she finally left the abuse and is now happily married to a man of her choice. 

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The Khans

The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates than there are 749,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in Afghanistan. Within the country men, women and children are exploited in bonded labour, where an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members and sometimes for multiple generations. Some entire Afghan families are trapped in debt bondage in the brick-making industry in the Easter part of the country.  Zabit Khan and his family were living as refugees in Pakistan when he became ill and borrowed several thousand dollars from a kiln owner to cover his medical costs. He began working at the kiln but was not earning enough to pay off the debt. As his family grew, Hun had to borrow more for food, medicine and other basic needs for his children. Seven years later an Afghan kiln owner bought the Huns’ debt and they began working for him back in Afghanistan. Khan, his wife and his 9 young children would spend 12 hours a day squatting in the dirt making line after line of clay bricks.  

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Azra

It is estimated that 21% of girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18. Child marriage in the country is connected with tradition, culture and custom. It occasionally involves the transfer of money, settlement of debts or exchange of daughters sanctioned by a Jirga or Panchayat. The government have recently taken measures to reduce the occurrence of child marriage by amending the Penal Code in February 2017 that would see offenders face a minimum of 5 years in prison. However, that same year, the National Assembly rejected the Child Marriage Restrain Act that would have increased the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18 years old nationwide. Azra was 17 years old when her father decided it was time for her to get married and sent her from her home in Germany to Pakistan. When Azra explained that she was too young to get married, her father got angry and continued to pressure her. Azra was able to escape her situation when she confided in a family member who helped her secure safe accommodation in England with NGO Ashiana.

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Mohammed

It is estimated that there are over 2 million people are living in conditions of modern slavery in Pakistan. Debt bondage constitutes the most prevalent form of slavery, being found in industries such as brick making, agriculture, carpet weaving and fishing. Brick-kilns are located on the outskirts of most major towns and cities in Pakistan and operate almost exclusively on the basis of debt bondage. Male heads of families receive advances which bond them and their entire families to owners of brick-kilns. Once bonded, the laborers are forced to live and work at the brick-kiln site. While all members of the family are expected to work, the minimal wages paid are given only to the male head of the family. The pay structure is such that basic necessities are not covered by the wages, forcing workers to take out further loans and increase their debt.  Mohammed and his family were searching for a source of income when they found work in a brick kiln. Though they did not take an advance, Mohammed was forced to take out a loan with the kiln owners in order to pay for expenses, leading him and his family to be trapped in debt bondage. 

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Veero

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, over 2 millions people in Pakistan live in slavery. One of the most prevalent forms of slavery here is bonded labor, in which an initial debt assumed by a worker as part of the terms of employment is exploited, ultimately entrapping other family members, sometimes for generations. Bonded labor is concentrated in Sindh and Punjab provinces, but also occurs in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, in agriculture and brick-making and, to a lesser extent, in fisheries, mining, and handicraft- and carpet-making. Some feudal landlords and brick kiln owners affiliated with political parties use their influence to protect their involvement in bonded labor. Veero’s family took salary advances as migrant farm workers, after which the landowner trapped them by claiming the debt was never repaid. Veero was able to escape her enslavement on foot, a difficult and dangerous journey. Today she works on farms as a freewoman, and helps with the release of other slaves. So far she has helped at least 700 others out of slavery.