News / Asia

    Pakistan Struggles to Find Missing Children

    Pakistan Struggles to Find Missing Childreni
    X
    Sharon Behn
    March 06, 2014 8:15 PM
    Thousands of children are abducted in Pakistan every year -- kidnapped for ransom or sold into sexual trafficking or begging gangs. Some are killed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad about how Pakistan is struggling to cope.
    Thousands of children are abducted in Pakistan every year -- kidnapped for ransom, sold into sexual trafficking or begging gangs, and some are killed. Pakistan is struggling to cope and combat this epidemic.

    Ghulaman Mai’s son is missing.

    “I have prayed and begged that I get my child back, my son, Shaukat, I want him back. Allah, his name is Shaukat, he is a small child, innocent,” she said.

    Shaukat is just one of the 2,700 children known to have gone missing in Karachi in the past year.

    Muhammad Ali runs the Roshni missing children helpline in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.

    “One of the reasons is kidnapping for ransom, and second is kidnapping for sexual assault. Third is the purpose of kidnapping for beggary, the kidnappers are from the beggars groups in Karachi, and the fourth one is for trafficking,” he said.

    Big business

    Police say children also are stolen and smuggled to the Middle East to work as prostitutes, drug carriers, slaves or even as camel jockeys.

    Karachi Police Superintendent Syed Mazhar Ali Shah said trafficking in children is big business.

    “They are very high-profile, gangs are -- they are related with the high-profile bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen in foreign countries and Pakistan also,” he said.

    Arman Khan’s five-year-old daughter Madeeha went missing almost a year ago. He has been searching for her ever since. He thinks he is finally close to finding her.

    “Last week a few culprits were caught, and they admitted kidnapping and selling my daughter to some Afghani. That Afghani has also been arrested, but so far he has not said if my child is alive or dead, with him or not, or even in Pakistan,” said Khan.

    Making changes

    The first 24 hours that a child is missing are considered crucial, though many parents are confused as to how to approach the police.

    This is the big challenge. People do not come forward for reporting, to lodging the FIRs [First Information Reports], for getting help by the police, due to the fears for the insecurity of the child,” said Karachi police superintendent Shah.

    Activists say the problem is the law itself: If a child is reported as missing, police are not obliged to investigate. Only if the child is reported as forcibly abducted can the police take action.

    Ministry of Human Rights Director General Muhammad Hassan Mangi admitted the country must do a lot more.

    “Services have been started, also together with civil society organizations, but this needs more comprehensiveness in terms of protecting any child requiring protection,” he said.

    For Ghulaman Mai and her missing eight-year-old son, that provides little consolation.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora