KARACHI: Child Labor is equal to cruelty. And that is the main critical and core problem of Pakistan that is increasing by the day. 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. In my opinion, uneducated parents are the main culprits when it comes to child labour because they force their children to work as labourers during their childhood in order to earn money and to survive. It is inhumane to strip a child from living a happy and adventurous life.
Apart from child labour, the country is facing poverty, ignorance and illiteracy. A mere 55% of Pakistanis are educated. Article (11) of the Pakistan Constitution prohibits slavery or child labour, trafficking and children under 14 to work at industries. But child labour still persists due to the bonded labour system. Bonded labour is when families run up heavy a debt, which is paid through work. If the loan is not paid and the person dies then that debt is passed on to the son who is then exploited as a child. Hence the rate of child labour has increased considerably.
According to the national child labour survey, approximately 3.3 million children below 14 years of age are working as labourers in Pakistan. This include both girls and boys. The government of Pakistan needs to make policies for providing free elementary education to children. The policies need strict implementation. Other stakeholders, especially Child Parliament, ILO, Unicef, the media and NGOs have to work in tandem to create awareness for the rights and the future of these children.
Syeda Anosha Gilani
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2020.