PESHAWAR: As many as 1.5 million children are currently involved in child labour in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, an Islamabad-based child rights organisation has said on the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour.
“Of the total number, 60,000 children are below the age of 10 years. A majority of [these] children are working in automobile shops,” Jehanzeb Khan, regional manager of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), said at a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Monday.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour. Each year, the day is marked on June 12.
Khan said that the ratio of child labour in Pakistan has increased as compared to other countries in the region and 2.6 million children are out of school in the country. The government, he said, continues to ignore the problem.
“The government’s lack of seriousness on the issue of child labour can be gauged from the fact that no data is available since 1996,” he said, citing a survey conducted by the government in collaboration with the UN Children’s Fund in that year according to which there were 10.2 million child labourers in Pakistan.
“The present government has already declared education as a fundamental right of every individual under Article 25-A of the Constitution,” he said, adding that it is essential to sensitise people of the importance to the right to an education.
Under the 18th amendment, he said, child rights fall under the domain of provinces. However, he called on the government to formulate law and take administrative measures to curtail child labour in the country.
“The government can implement its efforts by increasing the minimum age of employment under the Employment of Children Act 1991 from 14 to 16 years, thereby allowing children to avail their fundamental right to education,” he suggested.
Furthermore, he said, enforcement of policy and legislative initiatives at the grassroots can be ensured by establishing a strong implementation regime. “The Employment of Children Act 1991 is not being enforced comprehensively, owing to inadequate administrative structure.”
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