All work done by children should not be classified as child labor which should be subject to disposal. The participation of children or adolescents in work that does not affect their health and personal development or that interferes with their schooling is generally considered positive. This includes activities such as helping your parents at home, helping out at a family business or earning pocket money outside of school hours and during school holidays. These types of activities contribute to the development of children and the well-being of their families. They provide them with skills and experience and help them prepare to become productive members of society during their adult lives.
The term “child labor” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, which is detrimental to physical and mental development.
Child labor is one of the social problems that Pakistan has faced since time immemorial. This has a negative impact on the mental, physical, moral and social life of children. In India, the number of child labor exceeded 44 million, in Pakistan it increased from 8 to 10 million, in Bangladesh from 8 to 12 million, in Brazil in 7 million, while it is 12 million in Nigeria. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, child labor is increasing, placing Pakistan in third place in child labor and forced labor. According to a calculation by the National Secretariat of the Movement for the Rights of the Child (CRC), 12.5 million children in Pakistan are victims of forced labor.
According to an estimate by the International Labor Organization (ILO), poverty is the main and main reason for the threat of child labor. For Pakistan, the country has a per capita income of approximately $1,900. The daily wage of a middle class person in Pakistan is about $6 on average. An average Pakistani has to feed nine or ten people with this minimum wage. The high rate of inflation is another important cause of child labor. Pakistan’s total 7% population lives below the poverty line. This is the lowest figure in the history of Pakistan. Due to extreme poverty in the country, parents encourage their children to work to reach the goal of net salary.
Several laws regulate the prohibition of child labor or regulate the working conditions of adolescent workers has been introduced by Pakistan Government to stop Child Labor. The most important laws are, The Factories Act of1934, West Pakistan Establishments and Stores Order 1969, The Child Employment Act of 1991, 1992 Act on the Abolition of the Bonded Labor System, Punjab Compulsory Education Act, 1994, The 1995 Child Labor Rules
Our Constitution also provides us provision regarding Child Labor and ensure to provide education, Article 3 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan says:
The State must ensure the eradication of all forms of exploitation and the regular respect of fundamental principles, each according to his abilities and according to each according to his work.
Some of the other important provisions of Constitution of Pakistan which address the issue of Child Labor are:
Article 11(3): No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment.
Article 25(A): The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as determined by law.
Article 37(e): The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that women and children are not employed in vacations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.
Child labor remains one of the main problems of Pakistani children. Many laws have been adopted to try to limit or eliminate this threat from our society. Unfortunately, these laws are largely ignored. Around 11 million children between 4 and 14 years old are behind the operations of the country’s factories, working even in dangerous conditions.
According to the Child Labor Act of 1991, a “child” is classified as a person under 14 and a “young person” under 18 years of age. The Pakistani Constitution also considers the minimum age of employment at 14 years. However, the 18th Amendment actually raised the minimum age to 16 years without changing labor laws, which increased the contradiction. Article 25 (A) of the Constitution stipulates that the State must now provide compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen, which means that a child cannot be allowed to work before the age of 16.
There are some exceptions to this law. It is clear that no child should be employed in a profession dangerous to children, with the exception of the family business or any (training) school created, assisted and recognized by the government.
Child labor is a sad truth of Pakistan and unfortunately prevails in many ways in the country. This is unacceptable, given that a political principle in Pakistan is to provide free education and rid the country of illiteracy.
In many cases, parents of working children cannot afford to study or think that education does not lead to tradable skills. Unfortunately, the rate of child labor is increasing in Pakistan. It is mainly because of the reason why 25% of people live below the poverty line in Pakistan and cannot meet their basic needs, so they need to force their children to fight at such a young age.
It is very sad to see these young children should go to school at this age go to the furnaces and the factories and hands must have pens and books that they are used for bricks or change of heavy tires lifting loads heavy automobiles in auto repair shops. All children in Pakistan, or even the whole country, have the right to be educated, he has the right to enjoy his childhood and play freely! The government and even the local citizens of Pakistan should contribute to the eradication of child labor and provide better opportunities for these children.
Instead of bringing these children to workshops and ovens, the government should ensure that all children go to school. For this, education must be free or at least the price should be minimal, so that even the poorest can send their children to school and give them the opportunity for a better future.
The writer is an Advocate High Court Islamabad and teaches at the Best Law College, Rawalpindi.