Law to check child labour stressed

Published June 11, 2004

ISLAMABAD, June 10: There will be no end to the vicious circle of poverty if children are continued to be denied basic and quality education.

This was the consensus reached at a seminar on "Domestic Child Labour" , arranged in connection with World Child Labour Day. The event was organized by Parliamentarian Commission for Human Rights (PCHR) here on Thursday.

PCHR chairman and MNA Riaz Fatyana presided over the session, while Senator Dr Shehzad Waseem, MNA Kashmala Tariq, PCHR coordinator Shafique Chaudhry and representatives of civil society were also present.

The meeting observed that children were the most neglected part of the society at all levels. Poverty and lack of education were the two major reasons behind child labour.

The participants said the government had never made efforts to undertake a survey to evaluate the extent of domestic child labour. Child domestic labour is almost exclusively prevalent in households and, hence, remains hidden from public view and eludes inspection.

This makes child domestic workers vulnerable to exploitation, that includes long hours with little or no pay, and physical, emotional and sexual abuse," Dr Shehzad Waseem said.

Child rights activist from the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, Fazila Gulraiz, said: "Without political will, conditions of children cannot improve as many politicians and high-ups have confused priorities.

If authorities are as committed to solving issues of children as they are to test- firing missiles, only then can menace of domestic child labour be eradicated."

Children's education is meaningless for parents coming from poor sections of the society when they see increasing unemployment and job saturation, she added. "This is one of the major concerns.

There is no expansion of industry and the infrastructure is not creating new jobs. Poor families prefer sending their children for work to earn money, rather than sending them to schools for education."

Ms Gulraiz maintained that laws protecting children were non-existent, and stressed that the government needed to consider the issue of increasing child labour more seriously.

The participants also emphasized on quality education for children as well as providing them with technical skills. They also called for creating awareness about child labour.

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