KARACHI: In his addresses, Prime Minister Imran Khan always talks about the poor, who live impoverished and suppressed lives, and barely manage to survive on one meal a day. The whole nation applauds this action of his, as no politician in the history of Pakistan has highlighted the issue of poverty and child labour as much as him.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries for children. According to recent reports, more than 10 million Pakistani children have to work in order to financially support their families. At an age when they should be attending school, they make their way to work. Living in poverty forces the undernourished children to be economically active. Additionally, most households hire children as domestic servants. It is heart wrenching to see these helpers being treated as slaves by their employers. They are beaten, starved and even deprived of a place to sleep. They are frequently abused sexually by their masters and others.
A large majority of children under the age of 14 also work as bus conductors or at road-side restaurants and are victims of abusive language.
I would like to reiterate the PM’s words, when he said that every child will have a chance of living a normal life, where they will study, play and eat freely instead of living a life of exploitation and abuse. Despite these promises, the number of child workers continues to rise. The number of cases of abuse is increasing as well. Article 11 of the Constitution states that ‘no child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment’, but I see this law is flouted flagrantly. Child labour is a serious issue and needs immediate attention.
Asif Murad Umrani
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2019.