KARACHI: Not all children in Pakistan are lucky enough to enjoy their childhood. Many of them are forced to work under inhumane conditions where their miseries know no end. Though there are laws banning child labour, children continue to be exploited for cheap labour. It is because the authorities are unable to implement the laws meant to protect children from being forced into the labour force.
Unfortunately, the actual number of child labourers in Pakistan goes undetected. Children are forced to work in completely unregulated conditions without adequate food, proper wages and rest. They are also subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. According to a survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Statistics and the National Child Labour, approximately 19 million children below 14 years of age are working as child labourers in Pakistan. Factors such as poverty, lack of social security and the increasing gap between the rich and the poor have adversely affected children. We have failed to provide universal healthcare and proper education, which results in children dropping out of schools and entering the labour force. We need to come up with a possible solution to this problem quickly.
Government authorities and all civil society organisations need to work in tandem to free children engaged in labour under abysmal conditions. They need to be rescued from exploitative working conditions and supported with adequate education. Above all, there is a need to mobilise public opinion with the aim to bring about an effective policy initiative to abolish child labour in all its forms. In fact, elimination of child labour needs a holistic approach. It should be investigated why children have to work to support their families and why they do not go to school. As a matter fact, Pakistan’s biggest problem is population explosion. Parents who earn little have 10-12 children. People should be made aware of the benefits of planned family. It is becoming increasingly difficult to provide for the ever-increasing population.
Syed Asim Ahmed Bukhari
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2019.