According to published estimates, more than 12.5 million children in Pakistan are involved in child labour. Forced labour, slavery, debt bondage, child trafficking, children in armed conflict and children working in illegal activities are some forms of child labour existing in the country. Low literacy rate and extreme poverty in the country are among the major causes of child labour. Illiterate people don’t understand the importance of education so they don’t send their children to school and force them into work from a tender age. Rising poverty also compel a lot of parents to use their children as bread earners.
‘The Employment of Children Act, 1991’ had received the assent of the President of Pakistan long back — on April 2, 1991 to be exact. This law prohibits the employment of children in certain occupations and regulates the conditions concerning work for children. ‘The Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act, 2016’ is another law in the context. But despite the existence of these Acts, the menace of child labour in the country persists. This means that the problem lies in the non-implementation of law.
Children are the future of any country. And we are wasting this future without remorse. The government needs to enforce the laws in letter and spirit in order to eradicate this menace from the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2021.