Collective efforts needed to eliminate child labour, moot told

Published June 12, 2024
Civil society members, students and children participate in an awareness walk against child labour, on Tuesday.—PPI
Civil society members, students and children participate in an awareness walk against child labour, on Tuesday.—PPI

KARACHI: As countries observe World Day Against Child Labour on Wednesday (today), government officials, rights activists, members of civil society and other stakeholders asked the government and employers on Tuesday to take collective measures to eliminate the menace of child labour from the country.

At a seminar — ‘Let’s Act on Our Commitments: End Child Labour’, the speakers highlighted the negative impacts of child labour which include health and safety risks, disrupted education, hindered development, reduced productivity, increased crime, exploitation, damage to international image and human rights, psychological harm and impaired cognitive growth along with links to trafficking and crime.

The event was organised by the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) at the Sindh Boy Scouts Association Auditorium.

SHRC chairperson Iqbal Ahmed Detho discussed slow societal changes despite the laws protecting children’s rights.

Speaker draws attention to plight of around 30,000 street children in Karachi

He noted an urgent need to address the issues of 30,000 street children in Karachi. He emphasised SHRC’s efforts to incorporate human rights education in schools, referencing Article 25A of the Constitution on free education.

“Despite a Rs3 billion budget for textbooks, challenges remain in their distribution. The SHRC proposed a book bank and emphasised proper use of school management committee funds,” he said.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan MPA Dr Fouzia Hameed highlighted the gap between legislation and implementation in Sindh. She called for large scale campaigns and technical education to combat child labour.

A SPARC board member, Gul Masoti, stressed the need for effective implementation of child labour laws and shared success stories of children overcoming labour through education.

Representing the business community, Mirza Ishtiaq Baig, who is also president of Make-A-Wish Foundation, spoke about his organisation’s efforts in fulfilling the wishes of clinically ill children while sharing touching stories.

He also drew attention to the 25 million out-of-school children in Pakistan, emphasising on the severity of the issue by pointing out that where children should have books, they were instead working with bricks.

Dr Junaid Memon Alam, professor of development studies at the Institute of Business Administration, shared his own journey from hard work to becoming a professor.

Another SPARC official, Kashif Mirza, showcased a documentary on child labour, focusing on schools and drug abuse in Machhar Colony. He discussed SPARC’s efforts, including a letter sent to the education department about the colony’s schools.

Finally, a panel discussion with children on child labour was held alongside a theatre performance addressing the issue.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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