Tariq Ullah Wardak
ISLAMABAD: Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) organized an online session on “World Day against Child Labour” here on Friday.
Child rights activists urged the federal and provincial governments to take meaningful steps to abolish child labour in Pakistan, classifying child labour as one of the worst forms of modern-day slavery.
Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC said Child Labour is one of the major issues related to the child protection in Pakistan. International Labour Organization (ILO) has declared Child Domestic Labour as Modern-Day Slavery and worst form of labour.
He further added that Pakistan acknowledges forced labour, slavery and external trafficking in documents but it has not been able to take any administrative measures to ban Child Domestic Labour. We keep hearing about new cases of brutal torture and murders of helpless innocent Child Domestic Workers, mainly young girls.
Cheema mentioned that the recent case of an innocent 07-year-old girl Zohra Shah who was abused and murdered by her employers is just one out of several examples of such heinous acts.
Khalil Ahmed, Manager Research and Communication, SPARC said despite legislation on the subject the state could not ensure reduction in Child Labour but it reported that the same has been enhanced in the country. The reason is that laws are very weak, not serving the purpose and sometimes in contradiction with the article 25-A of the constitution. Poor implementation of the available laws and policies is also one of the obstacles.
He further added in ICT, there is no law to prohibit child labour. Employment of Children Act was introduced back in 1991. After the 18th amendment all the provinces except Balochistan enacted Child Labour laws, in Punjab age limit is 15 and in rest of the provinces it is 14. On the other hand, all the provinces have adopted free and compulsory education laws and declared the education compulsory till the age of 16.
Child Rights activists said an immediate action by the government to ban the Child Domestic Labour is required. Adding of Child Domestic Labour to the list of hazardous occupations under ECA1991 can be short-term strategy. Introduction of special/exclusive laws at federal and provincial level for the prohibition of Child Domestic Labour is the long-term solution.