Child labour in Pakistan
Child labour in Pakistan is the employment of children for work in Pakistan, leading to mental, physical, moral and social harm to children. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in the 1990s that 11 million children were working in the country, half of those under the age of ten. In 1996, the median age for a child entering the work force was seven, down from eight years old 2 years prior. It was estimated that one quarter of the country’s work force was made up of child labourers. In a city of Pakistan, Hyderabad children enter work force at the of age 4 or 5 years and they make bangles and bracelets. They make around 12 sets (per set containing 65 bangles) and only gain Rs.40 from all the hard work.It depends on the time consumed in completing these sets it could take as long as 2 or 3 days and they would gain only Rs.40 in 2 or 3 days. This is not just a situation of Hyderabad but all other katchi abadis of Pakistan.
As of 2012, it is estimated that 96 per cent of working boys were employed in the wholesale and retail industry in urban areas, followed by 22 per cent in the service industry and 22 per cent in manufacturing. As for the girls 48 per cent were employed in the service industry while 100 per cent were employed in manufacturing. In rural areas, 68 per cent of working boys were joined by 82 per cent of working girls. In the wholesale and retail industry the percentage of girl were 11 per cent followed by 11 per cent in manufacturing. Child labour in Pakistan is perhaps most rampant in city called Multan, which is an important production centre for exports goods such as sporting goods.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) suggests poverty is the greatest single cause behind child labour. Pakistan has a per-capita income of approximately $1900. A middle class person in Pakistan earns around $5 a day on average.The average Pakistani has to feed nine or ten people with their daily wage. Further to that there is also the high inflation rate to contend with. As of 2008, 17.2% of the total population lives below the poverty line, which is the lowest figure in the history of Pakistan. Poverty levels in Pakistan appear to necessitate that children work in order to allow families to reach their target take‐home pay. On the side of the firms, the low cost of child labour gave manufacturers a significant advantage in the Western marketplace, where they undersell their competitors from countries prohibiting child labour, often by improbable amounts.
Government policies on child labour
A number of laws contain provisions prohibiting child labour or regulating the working conditions of child and adolescent workers. The most important laws are: The Factories Act 1934. The West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance 1969. The Employment of Children Act 1991 The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1992. The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994
Child labour remains one of the major problems afflicting Pakistan and its children. Pakistan has passed laws in an attempt to limit child labour and indentured servitude—but those laws are universally ignored, and some 11 million children, aged four to fourteen, keep that country's factories operating, often working in brutal and squalid conditions.
Efforts to reduce child labour
By the late 1990s, Pakistan had come to account for 75 percent of total world production of footballs (or “soccer" balls in the US), and 71 percent of all soccer ball imports into the United States. The International Labour Rights Forum and allies called attention to rampant child labour in the soccer ball industry. According to investigations, thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 14 were putting in as many as 10 to 11 hours per day stitching. Then, the International Labour Organization, UNICEF, Save the Children, and the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed the Partners' Agreement to Eliminate Child Labour in the Soccer Industry in Pakistan on February 14, 1997, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Save the Children
Save the children has also been working with some of the sporting goods manufacturers represented by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and their international partner brands, represented by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). This joint effort is aimed at ensuring that children are not employed to stitch footballs. Save the Children (UK) includes disseminating information about child labour on major networks like CBS and the like.
Save the Children has also worked on project with the British Secretary of State for International Development to phase out child labour in Sialkot. The £750,000 donated by Britain will be spent on education and training, and also on setting up credit and savings schemes in an attempt to provide alternatives to bonded labour.
SPARC has conducted research that goes into producing its publications, including three major books on child labour, juvenile justice and child rights. Its annual report The State of Pakistan’s Children and a large number of brochures, SPARC has conducted a number of research studies. SPARC has continued to ask successive governments to upgrade their laws to set a legal age limit for employment in Pakistan, although they have not been successful in doing so.
Other NGOs that has worked on the issue of child labour in Pakistan includes organisation such as UNICEF. UNICEF supported the NCCWD in drafting of the Child Protection Law and the Child Protection Policy and initiated the establishment of Child Protection Monitoring and Data Collecting System.Many other NGO such as ROZAN has work to protect the child in NGO. SPARC is a NGO.
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