Sindh Assembly Deputy speaker Shehla Raza said that increasing poverty was the reason behind the dismal state of bonded labourers and that the government would soon a pass a bill on bonded labour and human trafficking.
She was speaking at a workshop, titled Sensitising media on bonded labour in Pakistan, held under the aegis of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at a hotel on Saturday.
Raza said that non-governmental organisations, political parties and the civil society need to play their due role and keep an eye out for matters related to bonded labour to root out this menace. “The government should make schemes to reduce poverty,” she said. “Pakistan is not a welfare state yet the Pakistan Peoples Party government introduced Benazir Income Support Programme which proved to be very beneficial for those below the poverty line.”
Bin Yameen, the national project coordinator of ILO, briefed the participants on the basic rights of labourers and apprised them of the obstacles they faced at their respective workplaces. “Bonded labour is a serious issue which is not duly highlighted,” he said. “The media should give the issue the necessary coverage and only then their condition would improve.”
Dr Saifullah Chaudhry, senior consultant on human rights and labour, gave a detailed presentation on bonded labour in different regions across the globe and the laws in place at the national and the international level. Chaudhry further said that there are several forms of bonded labour in Pakistan but lamented the absence of any concrete data.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.