Child labourers

Published March 21, 2022

IT is unfortunate that despite the existence of the relevant laws in all the provinces, the scourge of child labour remains widespread. The sight of children involved in hazardous work in brick kilns, the carpet-weaving industry, auto repair shops and domestic work is, sadly, very common. In this regard, news from Taxila about the registration of four cases against brick kiln owners should be greeted with relief but also caution. On the one hand, it is encouraging to see the authorities taking note of the gross violation of children’s right to health, safety and education, and making an attempt to punish the perpetrators. On the other hand, experience and a long list of examples lead to a high degree of scepticism vis-à-vis the state’s symbolic gestures, including the registration of cases. Child labour is a multifaceted issue that is complicated by the lack of access to education, absence of the rule of law, poor occupational safety measures and other challenges. Meanwhile, the government’s inability to fund, equip and run child and social protection bureaus or departments also speaks volumes for its indifferent approach. It does not care about the little ones who are forced to give up what should be a carefree phase of their lives.

According to some estimates, Pakistan has the third-highest number of child labourers in the world after Mauritania and Haiti. Experts suggest that there has been a four-fold increase in child labour in the country over the last two decades. However, official figures are missing, since there has been no national survey of the child labour force for over 20 years. Though steps such as the registration of cases against those who abuse the rights of children are important, the law should take the issue to its logical conclusion. Moreover, the government should start collecting data to assess the extent of child labour in the country and activate the relevant provincial and federal departments, while also building the capacity of law enforcers to recognise child abuse when they see it.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Banning PTI
Updated 16 Jul, 2024

Banning PTI

It appears that the govt and its backers within the establishment have still not realised that they are in uncharted territory.
Nato at 75
16 Jul, 2024

Nato at 75

EMERGING from the ashes of World War II, and locked in confrontation with the Soviet-led Communist bloc for over ...
Non-stop massacres
16 Jul, 2024

Non-stop massacres

Netanyahu is cunningly pretending to talk peace while mercilessly pounding Gaza. What is clear is that a return to pre-Oct 7 status quo is impossible.
Afghan challenge
Updated 15 Jul, 2024

Afghan challenge

Foreign states must emphasise to the Afghan Taliban diplomatic recognition and trade relations all depend on greater counterterrorism efforts.
‘Complete’ justice
15 Jul, 2024

‘Complete’ justice

NOW that the matter of PTI’s reserved seats stands resolved, there are several equally pressing issues pertaining...
Drug fog
15 Jul, 2024

Drug fog

THE country has an old drug problem. While the menace has raged across divides of class and gender, successive ...