In order to overcome our daily living needs we need to work and earn according to individual capacities. In a healthy society individual perform their role according to their age, capabilities and health condition. In contradiction to this, many of the children are deprived of their basic right of freedom and education and they are compelled to start work in a very early age. They are paid very less so they start to work long hours in order to full fill their needs. This causes compromise in normal physiology. So it starts to affect every aspect of life from health, education and off course the socioeconomic status, thus automatically affecting the family and the whole society. According to Freedman (1998), “Child labor is… Work done by kids full-time under the age of 15. Work that prevents kids from attending school, such as unlimited or unrestricted domestic work. Work that is dangerous for kids and that is hazardous to their physical, mental or emotional health”. There are number of children who are engaged in different kind of labours. According to International Labour Organization (2009), in Pakistan there are 40 million children age between 5- 14 years and among them 3.3 million children are engaged in labour.
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There are many serious social issues which are not yet addressed properly and not getting attention from the public, media and the government. Child labor is one of them. I would be highlighting few of the impact of child labour on the society with the help of a story of a boy who suffered from child labour at the age of 8 years. This story was told by one of my friend.
I was born in a very low socioeconomic class. I am the only son to my parents and elder to my three sisters. My father was a laborer and worked for a company on a daily wages. Still we were spending prosperous life in our limited resources and I had the opportunity to get admission in a school. It seemed that education and comfort was there for my first eight year only as my father expired on road traffic accident. After this tragic movement my mother who at that time was expecting fourth child started working for the same company to overcome our financial needs, but she couldn’t continue it for longer and has to quit it as she had end up with serious gynecological issue which I hardly remember. One my relative suggested my mother to send me to work as she thought that was healthier than my mother and can earn enough if worked with dedication so I was referred to a gentleman who had an automobile workshop near by my house.
I had cross by this workshop multiple times but didn’t ever think of the life there. So many MACHINES (which I call it at that time), three men wearing unique costumes busy in fixing things together, very strong smell of different nature which couldn’t stop me to cover my nose for a while till one of them asked me to come to him in his autocratic voice. The sooner I get there he asked me wash an instrument and instruct me not to make it fall. That was so slippery but I did manage to wash it and get a smile from him. This helped me to believe that they are also human being. By the end of the day I get my first pay for the day which at that time my mother thought is enough for us and it was wise decision to quit mu school and get into job.
Oh yes I did show my dedication towards my work and by the time I was ten years old I had started to do overtime twice a week to overcome my family’s increasing need. I get very much used to the routines and was able to do stuff like cleaning, oil application and fixing very easily, so it was easy for me to work for longer hours without any complaints. I was able to handle scolds and verbal abuses from my seniors’ and was luckily safe from an accident in which I could have lost my right arm.
Things never remain the same and I have entered in my late twenties no more dedication to work and family, I have chosen my own way which gives me pleasure and I’m not alone as well, have my own group of deprived friends. We work for a person to transport opium to different places, he is happy with my work provide me all the drugs without witch I can’t think of life. I have no regrets and I think I was born to get here.
This issue has a great negative impact on individual and family life. It starts to effect health right from the beginning where the working environment comes. The environment plays a very crucial part in maintaining optimum health especially in early developmental age. In this age a child is very much susceptible to catch infections, acquire unhealthy behaviors and at a very much risk for physical and mental disability. Lawrence (2007), “Healthy children grow into healthy adults. The health of our children is one of the most important investments that we can make and should be among our top priorities”. In the above story the person is not playing its role as a healthy individual e.g. getting into drugs not only spoil his own health but also harmful to others. Not supporting the family can be cause of another social issue that his sisters may involve in other unhealthy practices for their survival. This becomes an unbreakable chain, unless it is addressed at family society and country level.
There are many causes of child labour e.g. poverty, illiteracy and least concerned parents. But to me the most important cause of child labour is the economic instability of the country. In an economically stable country there would be no unemployment issues, people will get proper salary secured job, health and education benefits. There are certain situations in which accommodation and negotiation is difficult but not impossible, like the example of the child in the above mentioned story he was left with no other option except to get a work and to support the family. Serious action taken by the family and the country starting from base could help reduce in child labour. In need child can work but it’s his right that he should be provided particular hours and adequate salary by the employer so that there will be no need of overtime and he has the time to rest and prevent exhaustion. If these issues are not taken care it start to affect the economy of a country as a whole, and there will be no contribution by the people to country’s economy. People will be living in hand to mouth condition and will be not able to identify country’s strength and hidden recourses causing economic recession and affecting whole society as well as globally.
Least concerned parents, illiteracy and unawareness these are all directly linked to educational level of the society. Uneducated parents do not understand the value of education and have no priority for it. Without knowing the consequences they encourage their children to engage in labour and quit education which hinders the society growth by providing less educated people. Thus people become resistant to change and there is no advancement in the field which they are working. In this way the country is deprived of their human power. Parent’s education also counts when it comes to speak for their right and they can identify that if their child is being misused by the employer or the child is getting in to unhealthy habits.
In Pakistan the Employment of Children Act 1991, describes almost all the condition in which a child can work and prohibition of work in certain hazardous environment and long working hour. According to Pakistan National Statics, more than two-third of child is working in the agricultural sector, 1.2 million Children are bonded in the carpet factories. 35 million soccer balls stitched in Pakistan, children produce one quarter of the balls, most of them as bonded servants.
Child labour does affect the whole society in every aspect. Making the law is the not the solution is not the solution to overcome it. The law should be practical enough so that it can be practiced. It has to have a check and balance also, to make sure its applicability. Strict action should be taken against them who misuse child by providing very less incentives and unhealthy work place. They underlying cause should be identified first so that alternative arrangement could be done. E.g. what if the child is the only earning member of the family, if he is stop by doing work the remaining whole family suffer from it. Since it is not an overnight process it can be reduced by using the accommodation and negotiation according to situation.
Freedman, Lewis. (1998). Kids At Work: Lewis Hine And The Crusade Against Child Labor. Retrieved from,
International Labour Organization. (1998). Retrieved from,
Lawrence, D., & Deirdre, I. (2007). Environmental Injustice: Children’s Health. Pediatrics, 3, 5.
Employment of Children Act, (1991). Retrieved from
Pakistan National Statistics. (1999). Retrieved from,
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