By A. B. Arisar
UMERKOT: Floods washed away the infrastructure, economy, houses, hearths crops and livestock and mafias taking advantage of the situation shattered the dreams of our future generations by sending Sindh’s youth into male prostitution.
Floods have made many a princes pauper bringing them to a naught. Their homes, belongings and future prospects all drained down in waters.
Fifteen-year-old Nadeem Chandio of Larkana lost everything to floods and was living with his family in a roadside camp in Hyderabad. He fell in an ugly trap for substance. He was lured for a waiter’s job by an Ustad (mafia man) but is learning to dance. This is only a tip of the iceberg as many thousands of vulnerable children are being trained first to become dancers and subsequently prostitutes. Exploitation of children is now a lucrative business for those in this business and they find ample of opportunities to milk these innocent boys.
Chilling realities came to fore when Dawn’s correspondent bumped into some youths who were staying in hotels near railway stations. The place, it came to knowledge, was previously occupied by some dancing boys which was now replaced by some new comers.
Further investigation revealed that a mafia was on a lookout for flood-affected families and their children.
Posing as gentlemen, mafia people first gel into families through fake kindness and then successfully become guardian of their children by promising job and money both, while children end up as dancing boys who are then sent to festivals, private functions, dance parties and prostitution.
Not only their dreams get shattered but their education, social and physical prospects are totally drowned in the sea of vice. These poor chaps wearing anklets not only dance to the tunes of music but are also used for sexual amusements.
Ustad Hashim Chandio is busy exploiting the vulnerability of such families by hiring their boys for fake jobs while brain-washing their innocent mind with his evil thoughts.
Nadeem is not alone as there are scores of boys from Thatta, Dadu, Ghotki, Sukkur, Larkana, Qambar Shahdadkot and Jamshoro districts and were tricked into becoming dancers and languishing in hotels-cum-sexual amusement dens near Karachi, Lahore and Mirpurkhas railway stations and at places near Badin stop, new bridge, Railway station Hyderabad.
Another 16 year old boy hailing from Tando Adam narrating his ordeals said that he came to Hyderabad three years ago with one of his teenaged relative who said that he was working at a bungalow. The two boys shared the same hotel room where his relative sexually exploited him and eventually he too, became like his relative.
Few among them work as masseurs for enticing such customers. Ustad Chandio’s den is near Mirpurkhas railway station. He blames is diabetes for not letting him do a proper job work and thus teaches dancing to teenage boys and sends them to festivals with each earning Rs1000 to Rs1500 per night, of which he bears expenses of transportation, makeup, laundry, food and accommodation and gives Rs7,000 to parents of each boy.
He doesn’t fear any action for having good relations with local politician while paying police its share regularly.
He says that he is not the only man involved in this business as many Ustads in Sindh and other provinces provide entertainment to politician, feudal lords and police officials, he said.
Recruitment of children for dancing is a severe crime and falls into the domain of child trafficking or forced labour. Moreover, Prevention of Human Trafficking Ordinance 2002 prohibits any kind of exploitation in which children are exposed to abuse.
The government should take serious notice of this, specially, after floods as unemployment and poverty have increased manifold.
It is more likely that children will be exploited by sex traffickers through employment opportunities, said Salam Dharejo, National Manager on Child Labour, Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC).
District Police Officer Mirpurkhas, Zulfiqar Maher expressed his unawareness about the presence of dancing boys in his jurisdiction and assured of assigning officers for the job. He said that in the record of Mirpurkhas police no sex trafficker or entertainer boy has ever been arrested.