According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the term “child labor” is the work that deprives children of their childhood, potential, and dignity and harms physical and mental development.
Laws prohibiting the Child Labor in Pakistan
The minimum age for workers in Pakistan is 14 years for hazardous labor work, 12 years for soft works.
According To Constitution of Pakistan:
No child can work as an employee in the fields like mining, factories [Article 11(3)].
State will eliminate the exploitation of children.[Article 3]
The basic education of children between 5 to 16 years is the responsibility of the state.[Article 25]
Relevant Provisions and Acts :
- The Mines Act 1923
- Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933 (No. 2 of 1933)
- The Employment of Children Act 1991
- The Employment of Children Act 1995
- KPK Prohibition of Employment of children Act 2015
- Punjab Prohibition of Child Labor at Brick Kilns Act 2016
- Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act 2016
- Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act 2017
Causes of Child Labor
Several factors cause child labor. Some of them include:
Children from poor families work to support siblings and parents or supplement household income if the expenses exceed the parents’ income. It is a major problem, especially in developing countries, where parents are unable to earn money due to a lack of employment or educational opportunities.
2. Low Suction Leads to Child Labor
Parents and children need to understand that they can work hard and do something good for themselves. The low ambition of parents and children is one of the main reasons for child labor because in such a situation it is the normal lifestyle to work at a local factory or sell food on the street. They do not want to become social workers or big business owners.
3. Early Marriage
Getting married early is an important factor in overpopulation. Young parents can have many children because they stay fertile for a long time. When many children have few or no resources to support them, child labor forms. Older children are forced to work to help their parents support their families.
4. High Training Costs
Quality education is very expensive in Pakistan. Many parents living in poverty see family support as a priority because education is too expensive to pay, especially when many children have to pay school fees. Instead of letting the children stay home for lack of money to send them to school, the parents choose to put them to work as uneducated to support the family.
Child labor has several negative effects. Some of them include:
1. Loss of a Quality Childhood
Man must benefit from every phase of his development. So, a child must play with friends and create lifetime memories. Child labor leads children deprived of the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful experiences that come with adolescence. Hence child, forced to work, will miss many of the good things related to childhood.
2. Health Problems
Child labor can also lead to health complications due to malnutrition and poor working conditions. It is very unlikely that those who employ children have the moral capacity to provide good working conditions. Moreover, working in places like mines and poorly equipped factories can cause lifelong health problems for the children who work in these places.
3. Mental Distress Due to Child Labor
Continuing to work as a child while your friends play and go to school is not a pleasant experience. Children can also not protect themselves against most challenges in the workplace. Problems such as discrimination, child abuse, sexual exploitation, and unfavorable working hours can cause mental disorders in these children. It can also lead to a lack of emotional growth and thus selfishness.
Children who work do not have time to go to school. So, they spend a lot of time in the workplace for several days. Moreover, lack of education and illiteracy makes them people with limited employment opportunities. Education also prepares a person for various social challenges. An illiterate person views violence as the only answer to almost all the challenges he faces.
Solutions of Child Labor
Here are some examples of how the problem can be solved.
1. Free Education
Free education is the key to eliminating child labor. Parents who do not have the money to pay school fees can take advantage of it to educate their children. So, provide free education to the children.
2. Demand Skilled and Trained Labor
Creating a need for skilled labor will reduce child abuse as almost all working children fall into the category of unskilled labor. It will lead to mature employment as the demand for skilled labor increases. The establishment of skills-based learning centers, vocational training centers, and technical training institutions improve literacy and contribute to the availability of skilled and trained workers in the labor market.
Raising awareness of illegality can also help end this practice. Therefore, warn parents for sending children to work illegally. Moreover, the implementation of an awareness campaign about the harmful effects will eliminate the practice of child labor. The government can work with NGOs and civil society to develop a strategy to take initiative in this regard.
4. Empower the Poor
The poor are the most affected. The low standard of living and the economic constraints sometimes lead them to child labor. So, empowering the poor through knowledge-based and income-generating projects will go a long way in reducing this problem.
Child labor is not just an exploitation of the rights of children but a symbol of a society that has lost its way. Therefore, we must all strive to protect the fundamental rights of children. The future will be better if the younger generation has a solid foundation for success. A child’s innocence should never be removed to make life easier for young people. Many Laws have been made to restrict the child labor, which have reduce the rate of child labor. But still improvement is needed.