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Breaking the cycle: ending child labor in Pakistan

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By Mustjab

Child labor is one of the hot issue in all over the world including Pakistan. Despite of existing of laws and polices framed by the Government to protect children’s future, a number of children in Pakistan are involved in labor.

In periphery countries children are compel to work due to poverty. In most of the cases the families of such children are struggling to meet the expenses and ultimately children are doing labor work. Another factor which backs to the occurrences of child labor is not having access to worth education. Due to not having interest in education and unavailability of proper guidance from their guardians they led to the work. Traditions and cultural norms are also playing a vital role to promote the child labor. Poor families urge children to work and earn some money for them. They do not consider child work as immoral practice.

Child labor can hurt children very badly in terms of psychologically, emotionally and even physically. It effects children mental health and hazardous conditions are very risky to effects children physically, because dangerous machinery and toxic chemicals are very harmful and needs to be used very carefully. Surveys states that 33% child laborers are working in hazardous conditions.

According to the reports of International Child Labor about 12.5 million children are engaged in child labor in Pakistan. As per surveys conducted by different organizations, Pakistan is on No.2 in ranking of engaging children in child labor. Whereas, India is on top of the list.

There are multiple laws in Pakistan to ban child labor. As per Employment of Children Act, 1991 the minimum age limit for employment in Pakistan is 15 years and children under the age of 18 years are banned to work in hazardous occupations which effect their health and safety. Another Act, Boundel Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1992 prohibits forced labor of children and in 2016 an Act was passed namely Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act, 2016 which prohibits children for domestic work.

Despite of these laws, there is much work needed regarding implementation of these laws in true spirit and following the clauses of these Acts and Laws in good manner. Now Govt. and other stake holders needs to work on implementation instead of just framing policies and laws.

Role of Media is also very much important in terms of awareness about the negative impact of child labor as well as highlighting the experiences of individual children and challenge they face.

Media can be accountable for Govt. and stakeholders and put pressure on the Institutes to stop the labor. Some of the Local Channels highlights this particular issue but the mainstream channels are busy in their own kind of reporting of political issues. Similarly, the Print Media should also highlight this issue on the main pages of newspaper instead of printing as a buried news on 4th, 5th page of a Newspaper.

Child labor is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted approach.By addressing the root causes of the problem, enforcing existing laws and policies, changing cultural attitudes and norms and supporting organizations that are working to combat child labor, we can help protect the rights and well.

The writer is the student of BS Journalism Studies, 8 Semester at University of the Punjab, Lahore. He can be reached at [email protected]

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