AFGHANISTAN - Human Trafficking Report - A new IOM report says that despite some recent improvements in the condition of women and girls in Afghanistan, severe abuses of their human rights are still occurring, particularly in the area of human trafficking.
The report Trafficking in Persons: An Analysis of Afghanistan shows that trafficking in Afghanistan and among Afghans in the diaspora takes many forms, including forced marriages through abduction and for debt release; the exchange of women for dispute settlement; abduction of women and children, including boys, for sexual and domestic servitude; forced labour; forced prostitution and sexual exploitation of children.
The report is based on an IOM questionnaire distributed to 100 organizations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran; consultations (or interviews) with 47 NGOs, community leaders, human rights activists and community groups; and a literature review. NGOs that participated in the survey supplied information on case studies. The survey was also sent to IOM missions in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and India.
Human trafficking affects Afghans within Afghanistan, Afghans in neighbouring countries, and to some extent, foreign nationals being trafficked to and through Afghanistan.
The report suggests that the problem is socially pervasive. Criminals, members of armed groups and families can all be instrumental in the case of forced marriages. The exchange of women and girls for dispute settlement is often an informal arrangement among families, or a decision issued by a community forum or jirga.
In Afghanistan, many victims of trafficking belong to vulnerable groups, such as returnees, internally displaced persons, communities affected by natural disasters and other destitute groups. Traffickers also target people seeking better lives and jobs abroad, offering illegal migration that often results in exploitation. Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries are also vulnerable, often living in poverty and lacking access to basic services.
According to the report, many Afghans also suffer from other, trafficking-related human rights abuses. These include forced recruitment into armed groups, forced labour for opium poppy cultivation, hostage-taking for forced labour and other forms of exploitation, and the abduction of minors for forced religious training.
Human trafficking in Afghanistan can be attributed to many factors, including decades of conflict, lack of internal security, poverty and poor socio-economic prospects. Some traditions also contribute to specific forms of trafficking, such as the exchange of women to end blood feuds.
The report notes the inability of women to access the judicial system in many areas because of restrictions on movement without a mahram or male relative, especially if a woman is attempting to report abuse inflicted upon her by a family member. This has tended to conceal the magnitude of the problem.
Human trafficking in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the country’s wider problems as it emerges from decades of lawlessness. While there are no easy or quick solutions, there are measures that can be taken to begin to combat the problem.
The report calls on the Afghan government to sign, ratify and implement the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and to develop a national legislation against trafficking in persons. This legislation should prohibit abductions for forced marriage, sexual and domestic servitude.
It also calls on the authorities to pass legislation which prohibits the offering of women and girls in the settlement of blood feuds and other inter-family or tribal conflicts.
IOM Kabul has launched a one-year technical assistance and awareness-raising project to increase the capacity of the Afghan authorities to combat human trafficking. The project will build on the research findings of the report, and on current collaboration efforts with government ministries.
Both projects have been made possible through financial support of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
The full report can be found on the IOM website at www.iom.int .