CHILD LABOR AND RELATED LAWS IN PAKISTAN
The term “child labour” generally refers to the employment of young in jobs that are considered illegal or exploitive. International labour organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the united nations, which lays international labour standards states that; child labour refers to the work which is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children, and interferes with their schooling by depriving them to the opportunity to attend the school, obliging them to leave the school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
The root cause behind this curse is the economic instability. It is poverty which compels parents to engage their children into the employment and drive them into the workplaces so that they may fulfill their basic needs. Moreover, income earned by a child who is engaged in labour is taken as crucial for his /her family’s survival. Other notable factors responsible for this curse are lack of the facilities and opportunities to education, overpopulation, social backwardness, customary practice, etc.
Pakistan’s law prohibits the employment of children before the age of fourteen years. Article 11(3) of the constitution of Islamic republic of Pakistan, 1973 states that no child below the age of the 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any hazardous employment. Furthermore, article 25-A makes it compulsory for the government to provide free of cost education to all children of age five to sixteen, article 37(e) provides that state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions for work, ensuring that women and children are not employed in vacations unsuited to their age or sex. However, a large number of children in Pakistan these days below the age of 14 can be seen working. As the statistics show provided by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, out of 40 million children in Pakistan approximately 19 million are engaged in Child labour, in various forms and sectors. Sectors such as agriculture, industry and services. Moreover, the worst form of child labour wherein children are engaged is bonded labour, begging, commercial sexual exploitation, and the engagement of children in illicit activities such as smuggling arms and drugs. Pakistan has also ratified various international conventions on child labour which include: International labour organization convention 138, Minimum age; International labour organization convention 182, Worst Forms of Child labour; UN CRC, UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict, UN CRC Optional protocol on the Sale of Children, Child prostitution and Child pornography, and etc.
Reasons behind this continuous increase and persistence of child labour in Pakistan, is the lack of enforcement of laws and regulations on child labour. Provincial labour inspectors lack authority to enforce child labour laws in Agriculture sector. Moreover, no criminal law enforcement against this curse is potentially taken, there is no visible conviction of child traffickers and those who are using children in other exploitative forms of labour.