120,000 child scavengers in country, says report
ISLAMABAD, May 19: More than 120,000 children in Pakistan are employed as industrial workers or earning livelihood as scavengers, according to a report issued by a non-government organization. Out of them, 106,500 rummage through the waste produced by the affluent in big cities while the rest toil in the glass bangles industry in Hyderabad, tanneries in Kasur, surgical instrument units in Sialkot or dig coal in Chakwal, Nowshera and Shangla districts, said “The state of Pakistan’s children 2004” report of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc).
It said there were 4,000 child scavengers in Islamabad alone – about 2,500 of them Afghan nationals aged 10 to 14 years. The report said 6,778 boys and 2,806 girls under 18 were working in the glass bangle industry in Hyderabad district Â— 85 per cent of them worked full time. Most of them, especially girls, worked at homes for about 11 hours a day alongside their illiterate parents.
The incidence of respiratory diseases and disorders was much higher among the working children than the non-working children of the area.
In Sialkot, the report said, 5,800 children worked in surgical tools manufacturing sector. They mostly performed filing, grinding, polishing, cutting, reverting and electro-polishing. These children suffered from disorders, respiratory diseases, anaemia and conjunctivitis. Half of them have reported injuries during work.
The tanneries in Kasur employed about 750 children as full- time workers. About 80 per cent of them got on the job at the age of 14 and worked 10 hours a day. More than three quarters of the tannery child workers reported disturbed sleep while over half of them were physically abused at work.
There are 357 boys working in the coal mining sector in Chakwal and 95 children in Cherat area and Nowshera. Only 3.6 per cent mothers of these children were literate and almost all of them were poverty stricken. Examination of these workplaces has found that risk of mechanical or electrical accidents are very high due to confined spaces, inadequate illumination and lack of personal protective equipment.
About 2,478 boys were found working in deep-sea fishing industry and a good number of others in seafood processing and ship-breaking in Gaddani area of Balochistan.