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Child labour

This is the age of materialism. The developed countries pressurise the weaker nations and the mighty rule the helpless people. Most of the people believe in increasing their material gains. The lure of money entices hearts, enslavens passions and buys morals. The mammon-worship has made the women prostitutes, men stooges and the governments mere shuttle-cocks. Majority of the world population face an uphill task of overcoming the problem of food, clothing and shelter. A small number of feudal lords, capitalists and political leaders, etc. are busy in exploiting the poor inhabitants of their respective states. Today, preaching is heavily emphasised and valued more than practicality. Window-dressing is common in every aspect of life. As is the trend, ointment of sympathy is applied to half slaughtered humanity.
The birth of a child in all civilizations, normally, is a cause for celebration. The parents as well as their family feel happiness on hearing the news of a male child. However, mostly the poor parents cannot afford to send their child/children to school and to prepare him for a bright future. Children are born free and thus have their fundamental rights, which are being violated almost in every part of the globe. It is crystal clear as one may see an exploited child’s face in the undusted mirror of the present. Child labour, forced labour and bonded labour are the terms very commonly used in the world of today. Child labour is the product of a socio-economic problem and is on the increase- from domestic servants to the children working in hazardous conditions. Socio-economic solutions such as population control, free and compulsory education, practical steps for eradicating poverty etc. are required. Poverty may be the base of child exploration but a solution exists.
The government can provide protection for their development in the form of financial support from Zakat Fund or as an allowance from the Public Exchequer in order to get him educated. The situation on the ground, unfortunately, is the exact opposite. In majority of cases children find themselves in an extremely indifferent hostile environment. Around them, they see poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, poor health and sanitation.
The morning of a large number of children does not start with preparations for going to school. In urban areas, these children are the trash-pickers, found peering into waste-bins and roaming among garbage thus confronting innumerable health hazards. The situation is even worse in rural areas where families are large and parents have to make their children share the burden. Some children work in the fields but they are not paid well. Children are usually abused by the unsympathetic employers despite moral, religious and legal restrictions. The teenagers are often preferred over adults as they provide efficient, cheaper and more faithful labour. Almost all the motor workshops, service stations, and hotels. tea houses, carpenters, carpet industries etc. etc., employ children of tender age. Parents compelled by poverty and hunger send their kids to kiln-owners, carpet manufacturers, motor mechanics etc., where they work as bonded labour. They are paid little and quite often beaten mercilessly by the employer who provides no healthcare or any other facility. Many children live away from home in filthy accommodation provided by employers while their parents are at hone, unaware of the torture their child bears. Some parents even mortgage misery and live in a virtual prison. The children employed in tanneries and various other factories often suffer from respiratory and eye disease and ultimately their growth is checked or adversely affected. The administration and law-enforcing agencies are usually responsible for these grave offences.
The vicious circle of poverty forces the hungry parents to send their child to places where they get on-the-job training. In such activities, the apprentices are paid a small stipend as well. This amount is normally increased with the acquisition of skills. After getting themselves trained in a couple of years, the apprentices can earn wages and have the option to continue or leave their own venture. The less developed countries are trapped in their own poverty and Pakistan is no exception to it. A number of parents having their own shops and Small business ventures prefer to engage their children in their businesses fully or after school tirnes.
Most of the employers prefer child labour because it is cheap; children demand a fraction of what adults get as wages. Secondly, children are more efficient and are trained quickly, thirdly, they can easily be controlled and managed; fourthly, there is little fear of unrest from child workers. The less developed countries are thus caught in the vicious circle of poverty which tends to repeat and aggravate unless some vigorous efforts are made to break out of this vicious circle. Child labour is one of the causes of poverty as it brings down the overall wage-level.
The organisations like United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organization (ILO) etc., at international as well as national level, duly supported by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been making hectic efforts at different foram to consciences people of the world and policy-makers to the crying needs of children.
Child labour is the product of a socio-economic problem. The issue, however, has created awareness among the people of the world that children have certain rights and we should let them enjoy all the freedoms. Cosmetic plans, empty slogans, impracticable plans and policies, and many strategies were presented by various governments regarding the problem of child labour almost all of such steps proved a wild goose been chase and this drama was to meet a tragic end. Excuses like that of limited economic resources, debt-burden, a big figure of expenditures for defence, administrative machinery and so on, prove to have been a hurdle in the way of protection for the interests of children, Frustration, despair, despondency and exploitation have sealed the fate of teeming millions.
What can be done to find a solution may be summarised here by presenting some practicable suggestions, proposals and steps that can be fruitful if we want to abolish child labour, from the world in general and particularly in Pakistan. The solution includes: Our foreign ministry should present the case of child labour in Pakistan, in a scientific manner and let the world know what the actual facts and figures and conditions are all about such efforts can help restore the image of Pakistan abroad;
To maintain our positive image, an antidote to the poisonous propaganda of each of our rival nation would have to be used, e,g, counter propaganda campaigns can be launched whenever or wherever necessary; A carefully designed multi-dimensional and well-integrated policy package must be implemented including an improving quality and relevance of education and training, better literacy programmes, universal primary education, implementation of a well-knit employment promotion policy with schemes for poor households, effective implementation of legislation aiming at the elimination of child labour especially from tough jobs, hazardous occupations, raising public awareness about population and social welfare and ending the use of child labour in the manufacturing processes.
Several laws are enforced for environmental protection, similar ones can be useful for the eradication of child labour. A Task Force should be established to minimise the child labour to the maximum level by going through the details ranging from the causes to the solutions of this problem. This Force should hold the brain-storming sessions barrage of recommendations to enhance the status of children. Media of mass-communication should also take part in ending the exploitation of the children by various people. Media can also unveil and reveal the violations of children rights being committed by the devilic souls in various parts of the state. The leaders of different political and non-political parties or groups should communicate at all the possible and accessible for a that all our exported items are not manufactured by employing child labour in Land of the Pure. They should mould the public as well as world opinion in favour of their motherland.
The judiciary has demonstrated time and again how it can flex its muscle, how it can take part in eradicating social evils prevalent in our society. It should step up the efforts for securing proper implementation of child labour legislation. For this purpose, the number of judges should be increased and some of them should be assigned exclusively children cases. Free legal aid and counselling centres for children should be established countrywide with the help of local Bar Associations. If the issue of child labour is not resolved today, it may lead of disaster, increased iliteracy rate, and more ignorance among children. Whenever seminars, conferences or conventions are held, whenever the afore-mentioned suggestions, proposals, recommendations are presented the bottomline is to evolve an integrated national and international strategy involving the health., education, population planning sectors to meet the challenge. Forewarned is forearmed. If we want to make our future ideal and bright, if we want to see our country among the most developed nations of the world, if we want to revolutionise our society, our destiny. we will have to act correctly. We will have to remind ourselves again and again that the phenomenon of child labour deprives childhood to a child. Every sensitive soul can feel it. And it is insensible too, if they have one or more children. Although the constitution proscribes the work of children below the age of 14 in any industry or mine as well as in any dangerous activities, yet there are many children who have to drive tonga to earn money. Worries in life of the poor nations seem to be Penelope’s Web. And in case of developing countries, donor’s support financial and technical — is needed for a proper understanding and sensitisation of issues, and preparation and implementation of appropriate policies. But here arises a question, is donor’s aid for the poor and the helpless parents or received and deposited by a limited number of people who distribute and spend the least money but exaggerate their charitable and generous deeds. To be realistic and frank, the scourge of child-labour does not seem to be eliminated in the near future. But we should also be optimistic about the future if we are to move from sorrow to enjoyment, from idleness to hard work, from on unsatisfactory past to a satisfying future. We will have to get rid of stereotype thinking and ways for making a headway in order to travel on the highway of progress and heyday. According the UN Declaration, “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give “But it is sorry to say that this is not the case with the poor nations. No doubt, in the words of Herbert Hoover, “Children are our most valuable natural resources.” The word “our” has been substituted by the “exploiters” particularly for the third world, and the developed one in general. How long will the child labourers be thinking erroneously that one day they would become rich and enjoy a prosperous life? How painful it is for their poor souls and bodies! According to the latest UNICEF report, In Pakistan, hardly 3 per cent school going children complete their primary education. According to COVID-19 and child labour: A time of crisis, a time to act, child labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk. Children already in child labour may be working longer hours or under worsening conditions, the report says. We can easily assess where we stand by comparing the literacy rates in these countries, respectively. Child labour is essentially one of the basic causes for this sorry state of affairs in Pakistan. Time is never the same, it keeps on changing. As the time passes, a lot of things change along with it. The time once passed never returns, but only leaves memories of the past. We can only think about the past and can never bring it back. All the people of the world have certain moral duties to prove themselves to be human beings, and they would have to try their level best to provide the maximum facilities and opportunities to help children grow to become great men of the future and not to remain as an uneducated, ignorant and slave-minded class of people of the world. And in order to achieve our desired goals, the curse of child labour would have to be cursed once for all to save the children of today from being an uneducated people of the present and tomorrow’s past. Although the world is not unaware of the problems of the children, yet solutions to their miseries are not enough and their sufferings and grievances are unlimited. Conferences, symposiums, and empty slogans cannot fill their empty mouth and empty stomach. Nor such steps can save their rights to education, health and other necessaries of life. It will take a long time to bless them with their due rights. It is not the duty of an individual or a government to respect their rights & protect them too. Rather, all the just, humane and fair people are bound to fulfil this responsibility.
A child-labourer is usually as poor as a church mouse and as pure as God Almighty Himself. He is an offspring of man and what a pity! he is being exploited, oppressed and depressed by men who sometimes consider their dog dearer than a human being. He is being forced to live as a slave in one locality or another enclave. He is being deprived of his childhood and boyhood. He is being stripped of his freedom and rights. He is to become a man in the future, which is already being darkened by several classes of people, which is being snatched away from him. We, the people of the modern age and development and civilization, must pause for a while and think over the issue of child labour. Perhaps it will be shocking to feel that if we had been, instead of these innocent children working in some mine or a factory, what our sorry state could have been! Ask this question from yourself and answer the same, please! Thank you all who feel so and act too.

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