The north-eastern city of Sialkot is being hailed as a success story in the fight against child labour in Pakistan by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Sialkot, a city famous for producing millions of footballs each year, will likely supply the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The ILO Country Director Francesco d’Ovidio believes that there will be no misery or exploitation of children in Sialkot to mar the joy of sport. Talking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday – The World Day Against Child Labour – d’Ovidio explained that combating child labour is possible with ongoing effort. “The ILO has been working in Sialkot with several companies and factories that previously employed children. We created awareness among them and today, no factories in Sialkot employ children.”
D’Ovidio explained that while economic hardships still afflict Sialkot factories, the fact that child labour has been so dramatically reduced there is worth noting. “We have chosen Sialkot to celebrate,” he said.
He also announced the release of the ILO’s first global report on domestic child labour on Wednesday. The report finds that approximately 15 million children are employed as domestic labourers around the world and 10 million of them are girls. “Most of them don’t have the right to education or have any free time to play. We are aiming to end this,” d’Ovidio explained.
In Pakistan, d’Ovidio said, it was up to the authorities to decide whether domestic child labour should be on the list of hazardous occupations for children, but the ILO appreciates debate on the subject. He said that the ILO will continue to provide opportunities for children at vocational institutes, but added that the organisation hopes to step back in the future and have Pakistan take the lead on such efforts.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2013.