Shielding children: Govt aims to toughen up child labour laws

Will either draft a new bill or amend existing legislation

Sehrish Wasif January 12, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Following the discovery of a child maid’s horrific torture, the government is considering its options on whether to draft a bill on child domestic labour or amend the existing Employment of Children Act 1991, it has been learnt.

The case of 10-year-old housemaid Tayyaba has brought to light not only loopholes in the law protecting child labourers but also points to the dearth of accurate data about this segment of informal labour.

The human rights ministry is currently reviewing plans to introduce a new law banning domestic child labour or amend a section in the Employment of Children Act 1991 for this purpose, the ministry’s DG Hasan Mangi told The Express Tribune.

“It is much easier to amend one section of Employment of Children Act 1991 then drafting a full-fledged bill which is time consuming,” he said.

He said that by adding one sentence ‘at domestic level’ in a section of the act, which says prohibition of employment of children in certain occupations and process could provide legal protection to children.

Mangi recalled that a decade ago he had placed a number of suggestions before the labour ministry for providing legal cover to domestic child labourers but he could not muster enough support for the same. He pointed out that the Senate had passed a bill in March last year criminalising sexual assaults against minors, child pornography and trafficking.

Talking about the availability of data on child domestic labour in the country, he said though there was no accurate data available it was estimated some time ago that a child was employed as domestic a helper in every sixth house.

Furthermore, it is also estimated that almost 50 per cent of 24 million children who are out of school are into some kind of labour, he said.

ICT Child Protection Act 2016

Mangi said that a comprehensive draft bill titled ‘Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection Act 2016’, prepared and cleared by the Legal Reform Committee, will be tabled before the cabinet committee on legislative disposal today (Friday).

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2017.


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