Implementation of relevant laws and lack of education root causes of child labour
Peshawar:Showing grave concern over the increasing level of child labour in Pakistan, the speakers at a workshop pointed out that weak implementation of relevant laws besides poverty and lack of education were the root causes of this social menace and called for joint efforts from all stakeholders to eliminate this curse.
A one-day workshop titled Activating Media in Combating Worst Forms of Child Labour in Pakistan was arranged by International Labour Organization ILO and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for the capacity-building of print media personnel.
The workshop, organized by Mediamark, was part of the ILO’s ongoing national media plan of action to sensitize the media person about the child labour issues in the country.
NWFP Information Secretary Afzal Khan, National Project Manager, ILO-IPEC, Saba Mohsin Raza, Project Manager ILO-IPEC Khalid Hassan, Chairman, Skill Development Council, Haji Muhammad Javed, senior columnist Javed Chaudhry and Deputy Secretary General , Pakistan Workers Federation, Master Khudadad, and Deputy Director Ministry of Labour, NWFP, Zahoor Khan, addressed the workshop and discussed the child labour issues in detail. A sizeable number of journalists from almost all newspapers attended the workshop.
In his remarks, Secretary Information Afzal Khan admitted the increasing ratio of child labour particularly in the province was affecting not only the economic growth but also spoiling health and future of child victims, this grave situation has become a challenge for all the stakeholders, he said and added that, however, relevant laws were in place and efforts were being accelerated to discourage this menace effectively.
He pointed out that the provincial government was working extremely hard under the ILO Convention 182 that Pakistan ratified in 2001 and also under the ILO Convention 136 on the minimum age in 2006. However, he called for a coherent social action to provide the future generations with a bright future. Media in this connection could play a vibrant role in developing the public opinion by using a positive approach on child labour, he said.
National Project Manager ILO-IPEC Saba Mohsain Raza, explained that the work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity and was harmful to their physical and mental development was called child labour.
Quoting the 1996 study of the Federal Bureau of Statistics, she revealed that there were 3.3 million child labours in the country, but now this number is feared to have increased alarmingly.
The study further noted that Punjab was found to be having the highest number of the child workers with a staggering 60 percent in the having the highest number of the child workers, with a staggering 60 percent in the national aggregate followed by 20 percent in NWFP, 14 percent in Sindh and 6 percent in Balochistan.
More alarmingly, 70 percent of the total working children were found absolutely illiterate. These statistics are certainly worrisome for the society and the government. However, she said that the government of
Pakistan and ILO are jointly working to combat the child labour through launching various programmes including creating public awareness, opening community schools and vocational institutes in the country and also involving media as an influential instrument in creating public awareness.
Chairman SDC, Haji Mohammad Javed said that getting roots of child labour in the society is a major source of concern for all the stakeholders as this menace is regularly spoiling the health as well as future of child workers.He further said that poverty and lack of educational facilities contribute towards encouraging this menace. He was of the strong view that strict implementation of relevant laws was the only remedy to control the child labour. He also highlighted the efforts of Skill Development Council to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in Pakistan.
Project Manager ILO-IPEC Khalid Hassan, said that ILO was committed to control child labour in Pakistan. He appreciated the seriousness displayed by the government of Pakistan regarding elimination of this menace through initiation of various programmes and urged active role of the community in achieving the desired goal.
Deputy Secretary General, PWF, Master Khudadad, mentioned that surgical instruments mining, manufacturing, glass bangles, tanneries, coal mines, rag pickers scavengers, deep-sea fishing, child domestic workers, child trafficking, carpet weaving, street children, bounded-labour, beggary are the worst forms of child labour in Pakistan.
He regretted that majority of small scale business runners usually hire children as workers on comparatively lesser salaries only to secure more profit and other expenses. He said that we can combat this curse if employers stop hiring child labourers and also called that for creating public awareness the media should target employers.
Prominent columnist, Javed Chaudhry said that though the child labour in the country has gained its roots yet we are not getting discouraged rather we are comparatively strong committed to eliminate this curse as children are our future. About the ethics of media reporting about child labour, he said, “We must protect children against all the evil influences that may exist in our society at any times.”
He urged the media persons to always change the name and obscure the pictorial identity of any child who might be identified as ac victim of sexual abuse or exploitation.
He further securing a better and brighter future of children is our collective social responsibility and the media has to play its due role in realizing this dream. Deputy Director Ministry of Labour, NWFP, Zahoor Khan stressed the need for a strong collaboration among the government, ILO and other organizations for a devising a better practical strategy to control the child labour.
Source: Pakistan Press International (PPI News Agency)