Child labor refers to the employment of children in any kind of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful.Child labor was brought into focus 1990’s when the European Union announced a ban on the goods produced in the under developed nations due to child labor. Pakistan is among the top 3 countries with the world in widespread presence of child labor as per the The Global Slavery Index 2013. Preceded by Haiti and Mauritania, the case in actual can be much worse considering the fact that the last child labor survey was conducted in 1996 and the current figures are an not accurate, they simply are a result of estimation based on the current labor force. Karamat Ali, Director of the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education said child labor has increased to four folds over the past 20 years in Pakistan. Child labor is found in most of the industries in Pakistan from carpet to surgical; the worst part of this scenario is that the parents of these children are forcing their children into these jobs by forces citing various reasons such as they fear their child will not get employment when they pass their school or their child will acquire a skill at the end of the day. A research was conducted by Ranjan Ray in which he proved two hypothesis using evidence from Pakistan. He stated there is a positive association between hours of child labor and poverty, and there is a negative association between child schooling and poverty. Both of these hypotheses are confirmed by the Pakistani data. But when we look at children who work on the streets these children are at the mercy of their employers most of these children are runaways, the rest return home with meager wages. United Nations Office of Drugs and crime (UNODC) have stated in their survey that 72% of these children are not in contact with their family and 10% are unaware of their family details.
Child labor has served as the grass root for many problem such as illiteracy, economic development and health issues in children due to poor working conditions and long working hours. There are NGOs working for the reduction of child labor in Pakistan, the problem arises when we consider the ground reality that child labor in more prevalent in the rural then the urban areas where their reach id very limited and they have no means to people to send their children to school rather than jobs which destroy their lives indefinitely. A trend that the government follows is that it takes a back seat regarding all the issues it can actually make a difference.
According to an article published in Dawn Karamat Ali, Director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education said just three per cent of the GDP could ensure social security to citizens, which was vital to ensuring education for all children in Pakistan. Irum Azeem Farooque, member of the Sindh Assembly from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said the Sindh government was far behind the Punjab government, which was actively implementing issues relating to child labour and education within its province. Sorath Thebo, MPA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said most laws in Sindh were not being implemented. Mustafa Suhag, director of the labour ministry, said his department had redrafted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act and the Employment of Children Act and sent them to the law ministry for tabling them in the provincial assembly.
The government just seems to stalling this major issue maybe as the government is in the hands of the feudal landlords in Pakistan and it just does not suit them to end this curse just of now. Or it’s the people of the nation who can be declared selfish and held responsible. The real issue however is still spreading its roots while it seems to declining in world. India for example was at the top of the list in 2012 but by 2013 it significantly declined child labour prevalence. Instead of pointing fingers the issue needs to deal with.