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Child Labor in Pakistan Essay

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Published: Wed, 07 Jun 2017

Child labor refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labor. It is the full-time employment of children under a minimum legal age. The practice of child labor is considered illegal by many countries and exploitative by many international organizations. (Child Labor at Distrcit Level, 2009)Child labor is one of the problems that occur as a result of the responses to the economic problems faced by vulnerable children. In most developed and emerging countries, use of children as labors is considered as violation of human rights and is outlawed, while some poorer and developing countries do tolerate and allow child labor.

In Pakistan, a country where almost half of the population lives below the poverty line, child labor is deeply entrenched and pressing phenomenon. Child labor in Pakistan is prevalent in all sectors of the economy, thought it primarily exists in the informal sector of employment and home-based industry. Pakistan’s high population growth of around 1.6% poses multiple challenges and threatens to constrain limited resources and social and economic development of the country. According to the survey of Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) in 2002, the number of working children in Pakistan was approximately 3.5 million or 7% of the total workforce in Pakistan. However, the children under the age of 10 and those working in small and family businesses that are not registered with the government were not the part of the survey. So the actual figure is deemed to be much higher than the official figures.

In Pakistan, children aged 5-14 are around 40 million. The survey conducted by UNISEF in 2003, estimated that 8 million children under the age of 14 are engaged as labors. Most of them are engaged as labors in brick kiln factories, carpet weaving centers, agriculture, small industries and domestic services. The survey also indicated that rural and urban ratio of child labors was 7:1. The province with most number of cases of child labor was Punjab with nearly 60% of the total child labor population.

HISTORY AND IMPACT OF CHILD LABOR IN PAKISTAN

Child labor has been prevalent in Pakistan in all the sectors of the economy, though it mostly exists in informal sector of employment and in the home based industry. In late nineties, the matter of child labor emerged as a serious consideration due to international exposure. In 1996, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto acknowledged the problem of child labor in the country and announced the plan to eliminate it. In his speech in April 1998, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that the problem of child labor occupied a prominent place in the agenda of government of Pakistan. In 1999, Federal minister for labor and manpower, Shaikh Rashid announced a four point policy for curbing child labor in Pakistan. In Jan-99, government announced the draft of the labor policy. The policy envisaged that the government is committed to end child labor. It was also promised by the government of Pakistan in 2000, that the law to eliminate child labor and bonded labor at an economic level would be implemented in 2002 and till 2005; there would be no bonded labor or child labor in Pakistan. Even after so much regulations and promises by the government of Pakistan, the attempt has not been successful till now. Though the issue has received international attention and various organizations at international level like ILO and UNICEF are participating in the issue, still the improvement in this case is very slow.

In eradicating and creating awareness against child labor in Pakistan many communities are having a stake. Some of these communities/autonomous bodies working for the cause are:

Government of Pakistan

Children Parliament Pakistan

International Labor Organization

UNICEF

Other NGO’s, Society and Media

All the above government and private bodies are actively working for the eradication of child labor in Pakistan. The issue has been seriously addressed by the above bodies either individually or in conjunction with any other body. The role of each of the above mentioned body in the eradication of child labor in Pakistan is as follows:

GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN: Government of Pakistan has been actively working for the eradication of child labor in Pakistan. Activities of government towards the issue have been gaining considerable attention since late 1990’s, when the matter of child labor emerged as a serious consideration due to international exposure. In Jan-99, government announced the draft of the labor policy. The policy envisaged that the government is committed to end child labor. It was also promised by the government of Pakistan in 2000, that the law to eliminate child labor and bonded labor at an economic level would be implemented in 2002 and till 2005; there would be no bonded labor or child labor in Pakistan. Though the government has not been able to deliver on the promises made due to the increased political weaknesses in the company, still there have been continuous efforts made on their part. Government also identified poverty and lack of education for children as root causes for the child labor in the country.

(Arshad)The present government in Pakistan has made elementary education compulsory for children. Along with that, the government has also made the policy of distributing free books in primary schools. This would help the parents, who cannot afford their child’s education and school expenses can send their children to schools. Along with all of the above, the following laws are made by government of Pakistan to address the issue (Pakistan):

National Child Labor Laws: In Pakistan a child is defined as a person younger then fifteen. The legal minimum age for employment of children is 14 for normal businesses and 15 for railways and mines. The constitution of Islamic republic of Pakistan prohibits forced labor, slavery, and employment of children below the age of 14. The government of Pakistan asserts that the labor inspectors are empowered to carry out regular visits to all employment places covered under employment of children act 1991 to check the compliance of the law at that places.

Education Laws: Articles 37 (b) & (c) of the constitution of Pakistan declares public policy to “remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within the minimum possible period [and to] make technical and professional education generally available and higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”. Despite a law in 1962 requiring each province to designate areas where primary education is compulsory, none of the provinces have complied. As of now, the present government in Pakistan has made elementary education compulsory for children. Along with that, the government has also made the policy of distributing free books in primary schools.

International Conventions: Pakistan is a party to ILO convention concerning minimum age of employment in the industry and UN convention for rights of the child.

Through above legislatures and laws, and to some other timely regulations, the government of Pakistan is acting as an active community stakeholder in eradication of child labor in the country. Though in present scenario Pakistan is suffering through political weaknesses, but still government is committed to take the work one step ahead.

CHILDREN PARLIAMENT OF PAKISTAN: The children’s parliament for Pakistan was launched on 14-Nov-08, by Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC). The main aim of this parliament is to create awareness and promote child rights in the country. The members were elected from different schools of Peshawar, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Karachi, Lahore etc. Besides providing basic rights to every child in Pakistan other objectives of this parliament are:

End child labor

Educate every child

Provide medical facilities to children

Protect the children

In addition, children parliament serves as their voice to convey the difficulties and problems faced by the children to government of Pakistan.

INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION: With the matter of child labor in Pakistan gaining international attention, ILO has fastened its steps to address the issues. ILO does timely surveys within various industries in Pakistan suspecting large amount of child labor. (International Programme for elimination of child labor)Based on the survey they come out with survey reports addressing the issue and recommending ways to deal with the situations. Some of the latest surveys conducted by ILO in Pakistan are:

Survey on Child Labor in Kasur Tanneries in 2004

Survey on Child Labor in Glass Bangles industry in Hyderabad-2004

Survey on child labor in surgical instruments manufacturing industry in Sialkot

Survey on child labor in coal mine industries in Chakwal, Noshera and Shangla

ILO has also been working with the government of Pakistan guiding them from time to time on this issue. It is also acting as a watch dog, inspecting the ways in which government is addressing the issue.

UNICEF: The name UNICEF needs no introduction. United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund, a UN organization has consistently working towards the development of children in underdeveloped countries. UNICEF conducts timely surveys to see the improvement in the case. The survey conducted by UNISEF in 2003, estimated that 8 million children under the age of 14 are engaged as labors. Most of them are engaged as labors in brick kiln factories, carpet weaving centers, agriculture, small industries and domestic services. The survey also indicated that rural and urban ratio of child labors was 7:1. The province with most number of cases of child labor was Punjab with nearly 60% of the total child labor population. UNICEF also set-up centers in the Pakistan, helping destitute children get home. Pakistan is also amongst the countries that get funding from UNICEF to promote the steps in eradication of child labor.

OTHER NGO’S SOCIETY AND MEDIA: This is another group of very important stakeholders in the issue of child labor in Pakistan. NGO’s like ACM Apostolic Charismatic Ministry and Child Reach International has continuously worked towards the development of children in Pakistan to eradicate child labor. Though the NGO’s in Pakistan don’t get proper funding from government of Pakistan neither from any corporate bodies, still the work they do in crating awareness and providing elementary education to children is quite appreciable. Society and media as a whole has a major role to play in the eradication of child labor in Pakistan. These two stakeholders are still dormant in the issue, but for the development of children in Pakistan society and media have to play a major part.

Poverty levels in Pakistan appear to necessitate that children work in order to allow the families to reach their target take-home pay. The lack of economic opportunity for adult employment in Pakistan needs to be studied and taken under consideration; the government also needs strict to inspect the strict implementation of laws made by it. Lack of education is another reason for the high rate of child labor in Pakistan. Thought government of Pakistan has made policies for providing free elementary education to children, the policies need strict implementation to address the issue. Also, other stakeholders of the issue specially Children parliament, ILO, UNICEF, Media and NGO’s have to work in tandem to create awareness for the rights of the children in the country.

REFERENCES

(n.d.). Retrieved Aug 1, 2010, from www. unicef. org: www. unicef. org/ protection/ index_3717. html

Ahmad, M. (2001). Child Labor: A time to reflect. In M. Ahmad, Child Labor: A time to reflect. UNICEF.

Arshad, R. (n.d.). Child labor in Pakistan. Retrieved Aug 1, 2010, from http://www.hamariweb.com: http://www.hamariweb.com/articles/article.aspx?id=91

Child Labor at Distrcit Level. (2009, Sep). Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/17333/1/MPRA_paper_17333.pdf

H.Zaidi, H. (2004, Jan). Baseline survey report on child labor. Retrieved Aug 1, 2010, from http://www.ilo.org: http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=5225

International Programme for elimination of child labor. (n.d.). Retrieved Aug 1, 2010, from http://www.ilo.org: http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/searchProduct.do;?type=normal&title=&selectedMonthFrom=-1&productYearFrom=&selectedMonthTo=-1&selectedCountries=342&selectedMediaTypes=14&keywords=&userType=3&selectedFieldOfficeId=-1&resultPerPage=20&selectedSortById=4

Pakistan. (n.d.). Retrieved Aug 1, 2010, from http://www.dol.gov: http://www.dol.gov/ilab/media/reports/iclp/sweat/pakistan.htm

Population census organization. (n.d.). Retrieved Aug 1, 2010, from http://www.statpak.gov.pk: http://www.statpak.gov.pk/depts/pco/statistics/pop_sex_ratio_growth_rate/pop_sex_ratio_growth_rate.html

COMMUNITY PROGRAM TO ADDRESS CHILD LABOR IN PAKISTAN

ABSTRACT

Child labor refers to the employment of children at regular and sustained labor. It is the full-time employment of children under a minimum legal age. The practice of child labor is considered illegal by many countries and exploitative by many international organizations. (Child Labor at Distrcit Level, 2009)Child labor is one of the problems that occur as a result of the responses to the economic problems faced by vulnerable children. In most developed and emerging countries, use of children as labors is considered as violation of human rights and is outlawed, while some poorer and developing countries do tolerate and allow child labor.

In Pakistan, a country where almost half of the population lives below the poverty line, child labor is deeply entrenched and pressing phenomenon. Child labor in Pakistan is prevalent in all sectors of the economy, thought it primarily exists in the informal sector of employment and home-based industry. Pakistan’s high population growth of around 1.6% poses multiple challenges and threatens to constrain limited resources and social and economic development of the country.

The paper designs a community program to address the issue of child labor in Pakistan. It identifies various stakeholders in the issue and based on certain strategies and programs, intends to bring an effective social change. The paper also addresses potential challenges in the way of eradicating the child labor in Pakistan and ways for addressing the issue.

GOAL OF THE STUDY:

The primary goal of the study is identifying the trends in the issue if child labor in Pakistan. Based on the issue, paper intends to identify various stakeholders of the issue. The aim of studying this is to a community program to address the issue of child labor in Pakistan. It identifies various stakeholders in the issue and based on certain strategies and programs, intends to bring an effective social change. The paper also addresses potential challenges in the way of eradicating the child labor in Pakistan and ways for addressing the issue.

The goals had been made keeping in mind the resources available in Pakistan to bring a social change. Political weakness in the economy of Pakistan has also been kept in mind. The success of this community program depends upon the working in conjunction of the stakeholders of the issue.

STRATEGIES TO BE ADOPTED

In order to eradicate child labor in Pakistan both preventive and corrective strategies are proposed. Successful intervention models are also founded so that the change in knowledge would be easier to bring about, attitude change requires relatively longer time frame and finally the change in total mind set and behavioral change requires the longest time. Interventions are to be phased out in the time bound manner and change strategies are age specific and gender equitable.

GENERAL AND POSITIVE ACTION STRATEGIES: The following general and positive action strategies are requires to be taken to address the issue of child labor in Pakistan:

Change in attitude of stakeholders: Awareness campaigns, counseling sessions and advocacy workshops need to be geared towards parents for gaining their confidence and for raising their awareness about the ill-effects of child labor concerning their children. The campaigns and counseling would highlight the alternatives of child labor, including non-formal and formal education and apprenticeship. Parents would be educated about the benefits of schooling in terms of income and increased efficiency and guiding that child labor in many cases is futile with a very meager income associated with it.

Similar services for gaining employers confidence would be arranged for building support for struggle in eliminating child labor. Carefully designed educational and informative conferences and/or seminars would be arranged to restore the self esteem and dignity of labor. Labor Department working with industry should work with missionary zeal in order to accomplish an eventual elimination of labor in a reasonable time frame.

Poverty Alleviation: Numerous steps would be aimed at family’s alternative income generation and poverty. Poverty alleviation would be addressed very seriously at different levels with the involvement of international organizations, various non-government agencies and Provincial, federal and district governments. The problem of child labor in Pakistan can be managed effectively only if the problem of poverty is worked out effectively, through income generation projects for society and parents and through equitable and fair access to safety nets such as zakat funds and other benevolent programs.

Poverty alleviation efforts of provincial and state governments PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) would coincide well with time-bound program endeavors targeted at phasing out child labor from the country.

(Beig, 2004)The survey carried out by ILO in 2004 in coal mine industries in Chakwal, Noshera and Shangla revealed following figures:

Chakwal:

Category

Sample Plan

Actual Interview conducted

Working Children

450

126

Parents

12

16

Employers

60

27

Total

522

169

Chirat/ Noshera:

Category

Sample Plan

Actual Interview conducted

Working Children

400

48

Parents

5

4

Employers

10

13

Total

415

65

Drop-out Survey:

Category

Sample Plan

Actual Interview conducted

School-going

150

250

Drop-outs

15

27

Parents

27

22

Teachers

40

38

Total

212

337

Formal Schooling, Non-Formal Schooling and Vocational Training: (Kulsoom, 2009)Poverty being major reason for majority drop-outs, provision of fee and subsidized education would be recommended at formal schools. Formal school teachers need to be trained to adopt child friendly teaching methodologies and attitude in order to reduce risk of drop-outs. Apart from the traditional program of study, training at non-formal educational schools should include vocational training & health and safety education. NFE schools would be a really essential measure because to stop the supply of labor at source, alternative sources of productive engagement needs to be available with children.

Quality of education will also be enhanced and it needs to be attractive and relevant to help reduce the drop-out tendency in schools. Issues concerning child labor, including information about the hazardous nature of child labor and gender biases needs to be incorporated into the educational curriculum of non-formal and formal schools for both male and female students.

Occupational health hazards and safety measures: Till the child labor is eliminated totally, the culture of occupational safety would be promoted in all industries by raising awareness through advocacy seminars. These awareness-related advocacy seminars should be arranged at the worksites and at community level, would also be used for educating children about the ill effects of child labor and raising awareness about the value of education and its other positive alternatives. The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) study undertaken by ILO in 2004 also yielded detailed insights on the same issue. In addition to seminars, group meetings and workshops would also be arranged on a sustainable basis for promoting norms and adopting preventive health measures.

Improved Legislative Measures: Steps would be taken for enforcement of existing labor laws. Till the child labor is completely eliminated, increased protection to child workers would be provided upon the consent of the government against the violation of their rights and against unsafe industrial practices including child labor. High powered mystery clients would be requested to monitor adherence in safety standards along with labor departments and ILO monitors.

PARTNERSHIPS AND CAPACITY BUILDING: ILO would be requested to build strategic alliances with Non Governmental Organization in Pakistan. ILO also need to consider alliances with consultation agencies working on child labor issues to use them as catalyst-facilitators, monitors and trainers in working towards the common goal of eradicating child labor and reducing its ill-effects. To rectify the problem of child labor, cross agency partnerships in Pakistan would be prompted till the operations are self sustained and fully streamlined. These partnerships would be supported by ILO and jointly partnered with government agencies in Pakistan and with relevant international agencies such as UNICEF, UN department for Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and other stakeholders like NGOs, Media etc. cost effective innovative transformations would be geared towards effective building of District level labor departments, Provincial planning, district governments and NGO’s. The aim of training would be to inculcate learning about a proactive work culture along with a missionary zeal in addressing the issue of child labor in Pakistan.

MEDIA SUPPORT: Various media like T.V, Press, and Internet media would be involved in the broad-based awareness regarding the child labor issues, including vocational and formal education. Effective information, education and communication materials would be created and would be disseminated to press and other media in order to win their support and create awareness. Electronic media would be used later as an effective partner in the struggle against the child labor in Pakistan. Strategies will also be made to gain the confidence of electronic media through workshops, conferences and meetings.

All the above strategies used for community engagement are based on the following model.

Different Stakeholders that are involved in this program of community engagement are:

Government of Pakistan

International Labor Organization (ILO)

United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

Society, especially parents of the children

UN Department for Assistance Framework (UNDAF)

Non Government Organizations (NGOs)

Schools and their staffs, especially teachers

Employers

Labor Union

Media in all forms

Children Themselves

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES AND THE ROAD AHEAD

Potential challenges in the way of making community engagement for eradicating child labor in Pakistan are:

Weak Political and Economic Scenario in Pakistan: Pakistan is going through a period of weak political and economic scenario. So that will be the major potential challenge in making the community engagement because in an unstable economy implementing legislatures is a very difficult task. Also, making arrangements for funds in a weak political scenario becomes difficult because in this case government may not be ready to fund the program. For overcoming this challenge, fund needs to be raised from major corporate. They should be encouraged to fund the program as much as possible as the part of their corporate social responsibility. For implementing the legislatures, proper alliance needs to be made between Government bodies and foreign bodies like ILO and UNICEF who are already working for the cause. These bodies will help monitoring laws and legislatures formed.

Poverty: Poverty is another major challenge in the effectiveness of community engagement in Pakistan. Most families send their children to work to reach their target take-away home pay. So making them understand about not considering the pay of their children as the major factor would be really difficult. To overcome this challenge, workshops would be held and proper counseling would be provided to parents about the harmful effects of child labor and benefits of elementary education for the future of their children.

Attitudes of Employers, Parents and Children: This is another challenge in the effectiveness of the community program. In various industries children are considered as cheap labors. So changing the attitude of the employers about employing children by considering them as cheap labor would be difficult to change. Every business needs to be inspected at intervals along with counseling and advocacy meetings with employers to change the attitude of the employees. Same would be the problem with Parents and children. This would be addressed by showing the ill-effects of child labor and benefits of education.

Though poverty levels in Pakistan appear to be a necessitate reason that children work in order to allow the families to reach their target take-home pay, effective community engagement can help raise awareness against the issue. The lack of economic opportunity for adult employment in Pakistan needs to be studied and taken under consideration; the government also needs strict to inspect the strict implementation of laws made by it. Lack of education is another reason for the high rate of child labor in Pakistan. Thought government of Pakistan has made policies for providing free elementary education to children, the policies need strict implementation to address the issue. Also, other stakeholders of the issue specially Children parliament, ILO, UNICEF, Media and NGO’s have to work in tandem to create awareness for the rights of the children in the country.


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