CHITRAL: Trafficking of Chitrali girls in the garb of marriage goes on unchecked for last many years by professional human 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 Programme (AKRSP) reveals that 74 per cent of marriages of Chitrali girls with people from other districts, specially in Punjab, turn out to be fake.

It says that the trafficking of girls is done for exploitative domestic servitude, while there has been ample evidence of using such girls 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 her family would not accept her back due to the stigma.

About grooms from other districts, it says that majority of them are above age 50 and already married, and introduce themselves as high government officers or land and  business owners.

Unveiling the trafficking mechanism, the study puts the local ‘middlemen’ in centre of the dirty business, who introduce the groom to the girl’s family and provide accommodation and transportation to him till the marriage is solemnised. The middlemen mostly target the households with poor financial condition and lure the parents by presenting a bright future for their daughters.

“The poor victims have no exposure and hold a wrong perception that all the people in central districts of the country are affluent and noble,” the study goes and adds that these gullible people have no source of information to verify the claims of the prospective grooms.

About payment made to the parents or guardians, the report says that it ranges from Rs50,000 to Rs500,000 depending on the age and complexion of a girl, but over 50 per cent of the amount goes to the middleman.

About the factors responsible for unchecked women trafficking, the field study pointed out poverty, attraction of city life, negative customs and traditions, and lack of verification mechanism of the grooms and legal framework etc.

According to the study, the unfortunate victims are rejected both by their own families and the society in case of divorce, making them more vulnerable to the abuse on their return to native areas.

The study suggests that a proper mechanism should urgently be devised to check the information claimed by the prospective grooms and in case of any fraud they should be duly punished along with the middlemen, which is essential to saving future of Chitrali women.

Economic empowerment of womenfolk 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 families, recommends the study.