September 2021 – faint news in the media and print echoes a dark story of a gang blackmailing young women into prostitution. The FIA officials were able to catch two perpetrators, a man, and a woman, trafficking women to Dubai. August 2021 – the Punjab police recovered four young girls who were kidnapped and exposed to prostitution. The arrest reveals a sex racket in Punjab that led to the arrest of a few men working at the lower tier of the racket. There is no news in connection to the arrests made. The number of sex workers in Pakistan is unknown. It is either underreported or brushed under the rug. But whatever data is available will tell you the haunting reality of a rise in sex crimes, human trafficking, and prostitution in the country. According to conservative estimates, the global population of sex workers is around 40 to 42 million. It is also estimated that 80 per cent of these are young women aged between 13-25 years. The report was released in 2016, and since no comprehensive efforts were made to revisit the statistics globally. However, recent crime reports show an alarming rise in human trafficking numbers. In 2017, Clover Films released a documentary titled “Pakistan’s hidden shame,” estimating four million children as forced labours across the country and – a majority of which end up in prostitution. Our justice system sees prostitution as illegal and unlawful, yet according to a 2017 UNAIDS report, the country has roughly 229,441 prostitutes. According to a newspaper source, there were 20,000 cases of women and children being trafficked, with women and girls accounting for the majority of the victims – 80 per cent of the trafficked victims, with more than 60 per cent of those originating from Asia. According to Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency, Punjab has the highest number of traffickers, ranging from 30 to 35. In 2012, 40 officials were investigated, one was fired, and 33 were disciplined for their involvement in human trafficking. According to the Sarim Burni Trust report, 800 missing children reports were filed in Karachi in the year 2020. The first quarter of 2021 saw over 233 missing children reports, with 31 per cent girls. The records show many of the children still untraceable while a small number recovered from sex rackets. In another news report, the mushrooming massage centres and parlours were identified due to expanding prostitution in the country. The number of illegal massage centres in Punjab alone is estimated to be over 15000 under the protection of powerful political personalities and police officials. One of the largest sex racketeers in Punjab revealed the number of sex workers to be over 800 within the setup operating in various Punjab cities under the pretence of parlours and massage centres. The underprivileged women and children from various parts of Pakistan have been trafficked into the bacha bazaars of Afghanistan to the brothels in China, making it a lucrative market with an estimated annual revenue of $30 billion. A society supposedly built on the fundamentals of human values, respect, and protection driven by its religious DNA; barely represents any human values. Our countrymen will kill in the name of honour, yet bacha bazi, child molestation, and sex workers continue to rise. Our justice system sees prostitution as illegal and unlawful, yet according to a 2017 UNAIDS report, the country has roughly 229,441 prostitutes. FATA, KPK, and Balochistan regions seem to have declared prostitution a crime punishable by death. Yet, they are the hub of paedophiles targeting young boys, stigmatizing them, and forcing them into drugs, crimes, and a life of sexual abuse. And then there is the business of hostels that are a nucleus for posh escort services for the elite, or should we term it as “iPhone prostitution.” Since these young girls fall victim to their greed, they are not even included in the prostitution census and are written off as students. Pakistan has failed on many fronts on a societal level. Still, our inability to protect its weak and vulnerable and our ability to look the other way as bystanders is hideous and proof of our decaying soul and moral values. Like many other challenges facing our society, we have chosen to ignore prostitution as a problem for human rights organizations, law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and the justice system. Like everything in life, we close our eyes to this dilemma because we have decided to ignore the ugly within, make peace with society’s evils, and let the devils sell Adams & Eves! The writer is a communications specialist and a researcher. She tweets @Naz7Hira.