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HYDERABAD: In ten years, from 2013 to 2023, in Sindh 3727 children together with their adult family members were released from the custody of landlords in the agriculture sector, said the Hari Welfare Association (HWA) on the occasion of World Day against Child Labour.

These children constitute 34 percent of the total bonded labourers released in the agriculture sector. The data is gathered by HWA. Most children were released in 2013 (651), 2019 (606) and 2020 (915).

Akram Khaskheli, President HWA said that in 2022, the total number of released children in the agriculture sector was 198, which is the lowest reported data as compared to the previous years.

The prime cause of the lowest reporting of bonded labour cases is the media’s attention to rain and flood stories starting from August 2022. Most, 73, children in 2022 were released from the Umerkot district.

In the brick kiln sector in Sindh, of the total reported cases of released bonded labourers in 2022, 93 were children. Khaskheli said that Sindh had about 1.7 million bonded labourers. He added that Sindh had 6.4 million out-of-school children; most of them are engaged in child labour.

He added that the District Vigilance Committees are formed in 19 districts. However, these DVCs were not reported to be involved in the release and rehabilitation of the bonded labourers released through court orders. This raises concerns about the effectiveness and role of the DVCs in addressing the issue of bonded labour.

HWA claimed that child labour increased after the floods in August 2022. But the government of Sindh’s Sindh Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy (2022) falls short of adequately addressing the needs and rights of children in rural areas especially those engaged in agricultural activities in indecent working conditions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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