CHITRAL: The number of child labourers has been on the increase in Chitral over the last couple of years despite presence of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Child Act, 2015.

The increasing child labour indicates rampant poverty in the mountainous region and bleak future for the coming generation.

A large number of children can be seen working in automobile workshops, restaurants, tandoors, fruit and vegetable shops in Denin, Krup Risht, bypass road, Shahi Masjid Road, Ataliq Bazaar, Pologround Road, Sabzi Mandi area and Jughoor.

They sell food items at the busy thoroughfares of the city to earn a living for their families.

Sabir Khan, a trader in Shahi Bazaar, said the number of children doing labour in the city had been on constant increase over the years, and it was a pity that instead of going to school they came to the market to earn a living.

He said rising prices of essential items over the last two years had increased poverty in the area, thereby forcing parents to send their children to the market to earn something.

Emranuddin, who previously worked with the child protection unit (CPU) of the social welfare department, said the major cause of child labour in Chitral was nonexistence of social security as a child losing his or her father had to support his family as the relatives and neighbours neglected them. He said during a survey it became evident that poverty was the root cause of children being forced to labour.

Mr Emran said in villages children were made to collect wood from forests, while they were also found engaged in livestock keeping in different areas, especially in southern villages. He said about 40 per cent children working in automobile, carpenter and other shops, said they had left school on their own to learn skills to earn a living.

Nusrat Jabeen, district officer, social welfare, especial education and women empowerment, said her department was making plans to abolish child labour in Chitral, but lack of resources was the main issue.

She said the CPU, which had been working for protecting children’s rights and saving them from being exploited, stood abolished since last year due to lack of funds.

Lower Chitral deputy commissioner Naveed Ahmed said he would act only when somebody with a written complaint approached him against those who employed children at workplaces.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020

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