Child labour

Children’s rights activists time and again call upon the federal and provincial governments to take drastic steps to abolish child labour. A survey conducted in collaboration with UNICEF in Gilgit-Baltistan has revealed that about 50,000 children in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) were involved in child labour. One of the largest surveys conducted in GB showed that there was 13.1 percent prevalence of child labour in GB, with one in seven children is working. Child labour is one of the worst forms of modern-day slavery. The employment of children below the age of 14 is banned in Pakistan, yet the evil practice is going on across the country. According to the law, child labour is an offence punishable with prison term and fine.

Strict punishment and fines have been announced for those who are found guilty of engaging children in forced labour. Measures need to be taken to put proper infrastructure in place to ensure the implementation of the law regarding child labour. Already, there is no shortage of laws for citizens on how to live in society, but it is an unfortunate fact that not much importance is ascribed to implementation of the law. The practice is also driven by economic necessity and the disincentive provided by a wholly inadequate schooling system. Many poverty stricken families are forced to send their children to workplaces to make both ends meet. Government needs to pay attention to the economic structure and the plight of the poor for bringing an end to child labour. Economic constraints, lack of education and large families with a few bread earners are main reasons for child labour. These are the concerns that have not been addressed after so many years. The menace of child labour is still there while the exploitation of workers has been going on unabated. Child workers have no rights and are treated like an inferior creature at workplaces. The solution lies in setting up of more and more schools with free education for the children of the poor. As it has become a provincial subject after the 18th amendment in the constitution, the provincial governments have to take practical steps for the implementation of its legislation on child labour. Honest and consistent application of laws would go a long way to eliminate different forms of injustice and exploitation.