As the globe debates about the skills every child should acquire in preparation of meeting the world, Pakistan produces the third-highest number of the most hard-working kids, (read: third highest number of child and forced labor) according to The Global Slavery Index 2013, just inches ahead of Mauritania and Haiti.
As callous as it may sound, I don’t think that we are in a position to talk about abolishing the practice, and are perhaps forced to secretly pray that, may the child’s career flourish. Let’s rephrase this. We are not in a position to approve chopping off the hand that feeds.
Contradicting the stated and slashing off the ‘myth’ that child labor would stay until poverty stays, it works like a windmill. With children taking the tough road so early in life, instead of going to school, staying uneducated and unskilled end up in their lives in conditions no better than what their parents managed for them. As off-springs multiply, the poor-state multiplies, giving in to more child labor, clearly advocating that poverty is both a cause and consequence of child labor.
The question again, is Pakistan, or us Pakistanis, currently in a state to question? Like, can beggars be choosers in the land of the pure? It would be clearly irrational for us to raise objections until
1) The government provided decent education,
2) The government provided housing or healthcare for the underprivileged, and
3) The salary earned by this child is not needed by the family.
As alarming as it may sound, the Global Hunger Index Report (International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington-DC based agricultural research center) for 2015 ranks Pakistan 93rd out the 104 countries worst affected by hunger.
I fear that if measures are not taken, and an emergency is not declared, the widening gaps between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ may lead to something I would not even name (as I also fear that it might give a hint to helpless victim). With not much hope with the authorities in charge, more power to the NGOs involved and more power to our children.