Three to eight million people work as bonded labour in Pakistan

Published: January 2, 2012
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According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), there are more than three to eight million people working as bonded labour in Sindh and Punjab. PHOTO: REUTERS

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), there are more than three to eight million people working as bonded labour in Sindh and Punjab. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Activists from human rights organisations held a protest on December 30, 2011 to show solidarity with bonded labour. The protesters were holding placards and banners in front of Karachi Press Club. They were demanding the government to ensure the labourers got their rights.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), there are more than three to eight million people working as bonded labour in Sindh and Punjab. They claim that these people work for land lords and brick kiln owners because of debt.

Sharafat Ali, programme officer at the Pakistan Labour Education and Research (PLIER), told the The Express Tribune that the bonded labourers in Punjab were not paid by the owners and thus unable to pay their debt. He said that if brick furnaces in Sindh were registered then the bonded labour would have the same rights as other labourers. He added that the Sindh government had started the registration process.

While talking to The Express Tribune, Ali said that in 1992, the ‘Bonded Labour System Abolition Act was constituted but the rules and regulations were finalised in 1995. He added that law offenders could end up in jail for up to five years.

Engineer Inder Ahuja from the HRCP demanded that the government follow the United Nations convention on bonded labour and grant legal status to declarations of the International Labour Organisation.

He said that primary school children should be sent to schools by force because in Pakistan many people give birth to children and send them off to earn money as soon as they are old enough to do so. He added that young girls were sent to work as maids while young boys were sent off to do manual labour.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd,  2012.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 2, 2012 - 4:14PM

    Kudos to ET for highlighting this issue. Keep it up.

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  • Jan 2, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Based on what data did HRCP came up with this statistic? Even if the data exists how can the range be more than 3 to 8 million?

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  • Cautious
    Jan 2, 2012 - 10:09PM

    Bonded labor working in a Kiln is bad — but a significant portion (and perhaps the majority) of Pakistani’s are effectively working as bonded labor toiling on land owned by the rich/powerful subject to the whim of the landowner. It’s one of those things the city dwellers seem to ignore.

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  • ParvezM
    Jan 2, 2012 - 11:53PM

    To give a range of 3 to 8 million is ignorant. Please provide source reference. I will check HRCP to validate their method.Recommend

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