No relief for child workers due to lax implementation of laws: Sparc
Despite the enactment of clear laws against child labour, the plight of Pakistan’s child labourers remains unaddressed due to poor implementation of these laws, said the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) on the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour.
Calling for a complete overhaul of the way the nation perceives children’s rights, Sparc Executive Director Saadia Hussain, Sparc Sindh chief Kashif Bajeer and Child Rights Movement Coordinator Zahid Thebo called for a comprehensive child labour survey across all provinces for the obtaining concrete facts and figures.
They argued that it would not only help gauge the extent of injustices against millions of children, but would also help the policy makers apply targeted interventions to curb the menace.
“The last National Child Labour Survey was carried out more than 20 years ago in 1996, which estimated around 3.3 million children to be working in Pakistan,” read a Sparc statement released on Sunday.
“According to a 2015 study by the International Labour Organisation, it is estimated that 5.7 million 10- to 17-year-olds, representing almost 20 per cent of all children in the age group are labourers.”
These numbers, however, account mostly for those children employed in the agricultural sectors, while a large proportion of children working within the informal economy are completely unaccounted for, they said.
Moreover, both natural and man-made disasters in the form of floods, famine and war-ravaged internally displaced persons have taken a further toll on these numbers, for which there has been little evidence or accountability across vast swathes of the country, they added.
“So far there is a significant dearth in availability of the funds and resources needed to address these issues and to immediately stop the situation from deteriorating any further.”
They said that the recent high-profile cases of tortured child maids and indentured child labourers had presented stark reminders of the abysmal state of child labour within Pakistan.
Compounded by the abject poverty and malnutrition faced by millions of children across the country, the present state of children’s rights presents a bleak picture, specifically with regard to the progress made in these key areas, they added.
For instance, according to Sparc’s annual State of Pakistan’s Children Report, some 22.6 million children are still out of school in the country. “This is in direct contradiction to Article 25-A of the constitution under which every Pakistani child between five and 16 years of age has the right to free and compulsory education.”
The Sparc statement added that it had been over seven years since the law was passed and that glaring gaps in its implementation still remained, especially considering the plight of millions of children working as child labourers in various industries across the country.