KARACHI: Child rights activists urged the federal and provincial governments to take meaningful steps to abolish child labour in Pakistan, classifying child labour as one of the worst forms of modern-day slavery.
This consensus emerged at a consultative meeting organised on Tuesday by various civil society organisations at a local hotel to discuss strategies to highlight key issues related to child labour and slavery.
During the event, the participants reviewed a five-year ‘strategic plan’, which contained special intervention plans and aimed at curbing the menace of child labour. Salient features of the plan, based on a comprehensive strategy, were shared with the participants; with a call for collective action and mutual cooperation for achieving meaningful results for the elimination of child labour in the country.
“The Global Slavery Index, 2016 ranked Pakistan at number six with an estimated 2.13 million people living in conditions of slavery. This makes up for 1.13% of the country’s population, with a ratio of 62.47:100 for vulnerability to modern slavery,” shared Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child Executive Director Sadia Hussain.
“Despite the eagerness of provincial governments to enact child protection laws in recent years, the state of child labour seems to be worsening overtime. Cases of children facing abuse, torture and accidents due to hazardous working conditions have become alarmingly common,” Hussain said. This is partly due to weak implementation of laws and a lack of coordination between the national and provincial child protection bodies, she added.
Speaking at the consultation, Kashif Bajeer from Child Rights Movement said that according to a 2015 study by the International Labour Organisation, it is estimated that 5.7 million children aged between 10 and 17 years are engaged in extreme and hazardous child labour, excluding children working within the informal economy.
Bajeer shared that Pakistan is signatory to C182- Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, C029 -Forced Labour Convention, 1930 and C105- Abolition of Forced Labour Convention, 1957.
Under these obligations, Pakistan is liable to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, forced labour and slavery, Bajeer said.
“However, not only is there a visible hindrance in the implementation of anti-child labour laws but there seems to be a chasm between different key departments in tackling the issue,” he commented.