Human trafficking has been one of the most acute dilemmas found in Pakistan. Pakistan is facing human trafficking in the form of bonded labor, sexual exploitation, child slavery and forced marriages. According to the Global Slavery Index, Pakistan is ranked eighth out of 167 countries in terms of modern-day slavery with 3,186,000 people living in slavery. A high number of religious minorities make up that figure. The brick kiln industry contributes the major proportion of bonded labor in Pakistan where 4.5 million people work across Pakistan. Most of these brick kilns are located in rural areas far from the reach of law enforcement and the courts. Women are sexually exploited, and children are forced to work alongside their parents in the brick kilns across Pakistan. Due to being trapped in the cycle of poverty, these workers take out advanced loans, which keep increasing no matter how much they pay back. This is due to high interest rates, unlawful deductions and false entries recorded in ledgers that workers cannot read because they are illiterate.
Lydia (not her real name), a young Christian woman, was married to a person who was working in a brick kiln. Lydia’s father had no money to pay for the marriage ceremony expenses and dowry. Matthew (Lydia’s husband, not his real name) was willing to marry Lydia without a dowry, on the condition that she work with him in the brick kilns. Matthew was suffering from asthma and a lung infection brought about by continuous exposure to the hazardous smoke always present at the brick kilns. After a while, Matthew’s condition became much worse and he was unable to continue working. Soon, Lydia was working alone in the brick kilns but their payroll advance kept increasing due to Matthew’s ongoing illness. Sadly, Matthew died earlier this year due to his illness, leaving behind Lydia and their three children with a lot of debt.
With Lydia now being alone in the brick kiln, she was left vulnerable and the men began abusing her, including the assistant manager. She was forced to give in to their demands because she had no other option to pay back their payroll advances, and no help was available to her. One of AMG’s national leaders in Pakistan, Christina Javed, met with Lydia during a routine visit to the brick kiln. When she heard Lydia’s story, Christina stepped in to help her. With God’s help, Christina rescued Lydia by providing her with financial and legal assistance.
Lydia and her children are now living with her parents. Christina continues providing Lydia with food and other necessities during the COVID-19 lockdown. Lydia has interest in attending sewing classes at the Sablone Shelter & Vocational Training Center once the lockdown is over and the coronavirus situation improves.
Christina writes, “Thank you for all your support and prayers. Due to your continuous support I managed to help Lydia and have been able to continue my ministry work in Pakistan.”