CHILD LABOR IN PAKISTAN
Child labor is a reality in many parts of the world and Pakistan is one of them. The structure and pattern of Pakistan’s development provides a conducive environment for the prevalence and sustainability of child labor. Indeed trend suggests that there is a continuing social and economic impetus towards the growth of child labor. Future prospects of intensive urbanization, expansion of the informal sector and poor employment generation by the modern, formal sector suggest that child labor is likely to remain a substantive, if not growing, social problem.
The rising per capita income and growing economy may exert some countervailing pressure but the overwhelming weight is leaning towards a continued major role of child labor in the social and economic fabric of Pakistan. UNICEF and ILO, the two relevant international agencies have not focused on this issue in Pakistan. Perhaps the principal reason for the absence of child labor on the agenda of relevant international agencies is the attitude of the government of Pakistan itself. No prior government in Pakistan has shown any particular inclination towards child labor issues, other than standard legislative matters. Even in the sphere of legislation, a more effective approach is needed.
NGO’s and individuals have often taken the initiative to undertake small studies documenting child labor. Some lawyers and child rights activists have expressed opinions on child labor but there does not seem to be any comprehensive paper on the needed legislative reform. Because of limited resources available to the above mentioned groups, we have no systematic documentation on the magnitude and type of child labor prevalent in Pakistan.
Food for thought
Punjab government has taken some bold steps to tackle this issue. But there is a still need for lot more efforts to curb this menace. At individual level we should change our attitude towards children. Some people say that they employ children in order to help out the child’s family which is dependent on child. But by doing so we are encouraging the child’s parents to send their children to work out at such a tender age.
The number will keep on increasing, if this is not slave trade then what is? Are we reverting back to the dark ages when the flesh and blood of humans was sold? It is bad enough that we force young children to leave their families behind, to make a child work when children should be studying or simply enjoying the glorious days of their youth. Is it not a pathetic reflection of our society. How many more children will lose their child hood, to wash somebody’s dirty dishes or fix somebody’s car tyre at gas station. Please stop employing children in your homes. Government should set up more child protection centers in all the cities of Pakistan. Primary education should be made compulsory and employers of these innocent souls should be given exemplary punishments. NGO’s should also help the poor parents so that they do not send their children for work. Religious leaders and media should also play their role in educating the people in this regard.