Children, the most beautiful and purest creation of God, when go out for work, it definitely leads towards the calamity of the nation. Wordsworth, the poet of nature, used children to illustrate the wholesomeness, simplicity and innocence of man in the natural world. Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was very kind to children and he always loved them very much. He also advised his followers to treat children well. Once, a tribal chief who visited the Holy Prophet (PBUH), when saw him kissing the kids, he said that I have ten children but I never kissed them. Holy Prophet (PBUH) turned angry and said, “One who has no pity for others, is himself not pitied by Allah”. He also said: “If Allah leaves your heart barren of love, I cannot help you”, (Bukhari). Unfortunately, in Islamic Republic of Pakistan children are the most deprived and ill-treated members of society. They are being forced to work at their age of playing and dreaming. Curse of child labour stems from numerous factors like poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, higher population growth, unavailability of health facilities, outdated norms, traditions and uneven distribution of resources and wealth. According to World Bank, almost sixty percent of people in Pakistan are living below poverty line. Children of poor people are forced to earn bread and butter in order to run their domestication. Numerous children are being deprived of their childhood. There are many international laws to abandon child labour but they’re not being practiced in true spirit.
According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and ILO an estimated 168 million children, aged 5 to 17 worldwide, were involved in child labour in 2013. The problem is even worse in Asian countries where every 1/10th manpower consists of children. In Bangladesh, the number of child labour between the ages of 10 to 14 is 812 million, in India, the number has crossed 44 million whereas in Pakistan this number is reported to be around 8 to 10 million. During recent months, there is an alarming increase in Child Domestic Workers (CDWs) in Pakistan. Unfortunately most of the reported cases belong to educated families living in urban areas. According to 1098 Madadgaar Helpline, 69,604 cases of child abuse were reported from 2000 to 2003 out of which 56% belong to Punjab province. Constitution of Pakistan strongly protects children’s rights but lawmakers and national institutions failed to comply with it. Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states:States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. Overcoming the menace of child labour is not a difficult task. The only thing required is political will and commitment by every citizen of Pakistan. There is the need to raise awareness among parents regarding adverse effects of child labour and convincing them to take care of others’ children like their own kids. Enhancing punishment for those responsible of child labour, improving rehabilitation measures and providing other viable alternatives for children and their families can help to eradicate this curse. The worst part of this sad practice is that these children mostly remain unable to get education.
(The writer is a PhD scholar)