Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police have arrested a man near Peshawar for allegedly arranging to sell his 12-year-old daughter into prostitution in return for large sums of money and favours.
Interviews with the intended victim, Nushin and her brother, suggested that their father, Adalat Khan, has already profited from the sale of two other daughters and their mother who were sold into prostitution.
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“I already lost my mother and two sisters,” Nushin said during an interview while trying hard to hold back tears, adding that “Now he tried to sell me to two Punjabi men. I don’t know what they would have done with me."
Nushin, who is now under police protection, said she shared her suspicions with her 18-year-old brother, Rezwanullah, who tipped off police about his father's plans and said "My sister informed me that my father was going to sell her, so I took her away and we ran away to our aunt's house."
He said further that he was very young at the time his mother and two sisters were sold, adding that he has little recollection of them and does not know their whereabouts. Nushin and her brother have now been placed under police protection.
Adalat Khan has now been placed under police custody and having acknowledged handing over two of his daughters in the past, still insists that he merely hoped to give Nushin away in the "name of God".
He admits to receiving money and favours in connection with the handover of the two elder daughters, and after receiving a visa to Saudi Arabia, he spent around two years working there before returning to Pakistan.
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"My eldest daughter was sold by Khatoon" -- the suspected go-between in the current case -- for Rs30,000," Khan said, adding that "I gave away my other daughter, named Guldasta, after her [future] husband provided me with a visa."
Police accuse Khatoon of arranging for Nushin to be sold, and say she received Rs70,000 from the prospective buyers, however, Khatoon has denied charges; saying she was simply arranging a marriage.
Khatoon has denied the charges, saying she was simply arranging a marriage. "I swear on the Quran that I asked Nushin's hand in marriage for my grandson and her father agreed," Khatoon maintains, adding that "You can even see the engagement ring on her finger."
Payoffs in the trade have purportedly ranged from a few hundred dollars to a foreign visa and, in this latest case Rs200,000 ($1,900), roughly equal to a manual laborer's annual wage.
Authorities across the country have waged several battles to crack down on the trafficking of young people-- particularly girls--as well as the persistent problem of child marriage.
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However, women and young girls continue to suffer disproportionately from abuse, and efforts to harshen punishments for marrying off underage girls or treating them transactionally has been met with opposition from religious groups and other conservative, male-dominated circles.
This article originally appeared on Radio Liberty