Legislation to reduce child labour rate in the offing
KARACHI (May 10 2008): Sindh government has chalked out a plan to legislate to scale down the increasing rate of child labour. Speaker Sindh Assembly Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said this at a launching ceremony of “Protection and Empowerment of Working Children in Sindh” jointly organised by Thardeep Rural Development Program and Save the Children, UK at local hotel on Friday.
Khuhro said the government was seriously considering facilitating the inhabitants of undeveloped rural areas, where children were forced to work 10 to 12 hours on daily basis to meet domestic expenditures and pay debts, which were lent by their elders.
He said that entire family including children was bounded to pay debts to mortgagee for years and work as a bound labour especially in handmade carpet industries, brick kilns, mining and road construction in rural areas. These workers were living below the poverty line, he added.
Keeping all problems, the provincial government had made laws to prevent child labour across the province, which would be tabled in Sindh Assembly for approval, he apprised. Khuhro expressed the hope that the living condition, which was presently worsen in rural areas especially Tharparkar, would be positively changed after promulgating laws besides facilitating all concerned authorities to eradicate this menace completely.
In her keynote speech, Shazia Mari, Provincial Minister for Information said that the children were most vulnerable segment of the society, which needed immense attention and care for their better future. “Due to lack of proper measures to eliminate child labour, the future of Pakistan is being spoiled by our own hands,” she added.
She urged UNICEF and all concerned Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to take a part in this matter besides taking positive measures in this connection. She said that the government would provide all legal support to those organizations involved in providing education to children and playing key role in eliminating child labour menace from the society. She stressed the need for monitoring NGOs funds and its utilisation. Madeline Wright, Country Director, Save the Children, Dr Sono Khangharani, CEO, TRDP, Amer Habib, Project Manger, Save the Children and Dr Suleman Sheikh, Chairperson, TRDP also spoke on the occasion.
They said that out of total population across Tharparkar, 20,000 working children would be provided an opportunity to access quality education and vocational skill, aimed to diversify economic opportunities to communities. They said that children at arid districts of Sindh faced biting poverty. About 60,000 worked in hazardous labour mainly in carpet weaving, brick kilns, mining, road construction and agriculture, they further said.
Contractors, who lend money to families, target children resulting in bonded labour, deprivation from education and a vicious cycle of poverty. Girls are at higher risk, as they often cannot attend male-teacher schools and work as labourers as well as doing household chores.
They said that protection and empowerment of working children was a five years strategic grant which will enable Thardeep Rural Development Program to expand its work on child labour from several districts, and from a focus on carpet weaving to all major forms of hazardous labour in the region.
They apprised that around 500 teachers were trained to provide their services at some 200 schools spread across Sindh where around 20,000 working children receive healthy and quality education. Over 7,000 families would also receive incentives for sending girls to school and alternative education centres, they concluded.
Source: Business Recorder