Child labour a matter of concern -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Child labour a matter of concern

KARACHI – The third world countries including Pakistan are being plagued by child labour in terms of lack of education and health facilities for the budding generation.

The situation very much needs more concerted efforts on the part stakeholders if we want a healthy generation and improve the country’s image in the world.

These views were expressed at a one-day workshop titled “Activating Media in Combating Worst Forms of Child Labour in Pakistan” here at a local hotel on Monday. The workshop was the joint collaboration of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and International Labour Organisation (ILO) for the capacity-building of journalists from the print media.

It was arranged by the MediaMark and was part of the ILO’s ongoing national media plan of action to sensitise the media persons about the child labour issues.

Shujat Ali Baig, Education Minister for Sindh, National Project Manager, ILO, Saba Mohsin Raza; Chairman Pakistan Workers Federation, Muhammad Ahmed; Dr. Tahir Masood, Senior Columnist; Jamilur Rehman and Fatima Hassan of Sindh Labour Department; Chairman WEBCOP Ahsan Ullah Khan; and Saud Alam, Deputy Secretary, Employers’ Federation of Pakistan; spoke on this important issue.

In her opening remarks, National Project Manager, ILO, Saba Mohsin Raza, said that child labour has gained a ground in Pakistan with the passage of time and consequently a source of major concern for all the stakeholders as it is negatively impacting on the child victims. She quoted the 1996 study done by the Federal Bureau of Statistics and said that there were 3.3 million child workers in the country. But in 2008, it is feared that this number have got inflated threatening the health and education rights of the child workers.

She pointed out that surgical instruments manufacturing, glass bangles, tanneries, coal mines, rag pickers/scavengers, deep-sea fishing, child domestic workers, child trafficking, carpet weaving, street children, bonded labour and beggary are the areas where children are the worst forms of child labour in Pakistan.

However, she pointed out that ILO, with strong cooperation of the government of Pakistan, is committed to combat this social menace effectively and has launched several initiatives including establishment of regular schools and training institutes in parts of the country. She said that media has an instrumental role in creating public awareness about the child labour and in this regard media persons capacity building can yield positive results.

Shujat Ali Baig, Provincial Education Minister, said that the Sindh government is working extremely hard under the ILO Convention 182 Pakistan ratified in 2001 and also under the ILO Convention 136 on the minimum age in 2006.

He acknowledged that Pakistan is facing the issue of child labour. However, he said that hectic efforts are being made to create public awareness so that this menace is controlled effectively. He mentioned that media is an effective instrument in terms of highlighting the child issues and sought its suggestive role to combat the issue with a new approach.

Addressing the audience, Chairman Pakistan Workers Federation, Muhammad Ahmed, pointed out that the child labour ratio is quite high particularly in the areas like carpet industry and bangles making sector.

He pointed out that child labourers, both male and female, work at the manual carpet weaving machines installed mostly at homes and mentioned that long hours working at these machines, while sitting in a peculiar angle, normally leads to deshaping of their body postures and creates other diseases like respiratory problems and regular finger injuries.

He called for strict laws and their blanket implementation so that this social menace is discouraged on permanent basis.

Prominent columnist, Dr. Tahir Masood, highlighted the media ethics on social issues particularly child labour.

He suggested that media professionals should observe the recognised principles of reporting which manifest protecting the identity of child victims.

He said that children are a treasure for a better and brighter future of Pakistan and media can play its role in realising this dream.

He also encouraged a closer government and civil society interaction so that such issues are highlighted properly.
Dilating upon the relations between employers and employees, Chairman WEBCOP Ahsan Ullah Khan said that we could eliminate this curse if employers stop hiring child labourers.

He regretted that majority of those investing in various sectors usually hire child workers on comparatively lesser salaries only to secure more profit and cut other expenses.

Ahsan Ullah also said that laws should be made by involving all the stakeholders and their strict implementation is ensured as the loopholes in the whole legal framework is the main cause of the child labour getting encouraged in the country.
Source: The Nation
Date:3/25/2008