LAHORE: Child labour remains a significant issue in Pakistan, although there have been efforts to address it. Pakistan has faced challenges in effectively eliminating child labour due to a variety of socio-economic factors. In this backdrop, WISE has been collecting reported cases of violence against domestic workers in Punjab, focusing girl and boy child. The statistics were collected through daily newspaper and websites.

Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director, WISE, during the period of (1st January 2019-31st May 2024), shows that total 147 cases were reported in province of Punjab, 28 girls were died, and 119 were severely injured, the girls victims were aged 7-20. Majority of cases were reported from District Lahore, Faisalabad and Kasur.

Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, Coordinator CRM, stated that, today, on the International Day against Child Labour, these figures underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address and prevent such acts of violence, safeguarding individuals from harm and ensuring justice for victims.

We demand to ensure full enforcement of the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 to protect the rights of domestic workers and regulate their terms of employment, working conditions, minimum wage of 32,000 PKR, 16 years minimum age of the domestic workers and social welfare provisions.

Tanveer Jahan, Executive Director Democratic Commission for Human Development, said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, is landmark treaty that establishes a comprehensive framework for the protection and promotion of children’s rights. One of its critical areas of focus is the eradication of child labour.

Syed Miqdad Mehdi, Child Rights activist, suggested that ending child labour in Pakistan requires the implementation and enforcement of effective laws designed to protect the rights of children and ensure their well-being. While significant strides have been made, more robust legislative measures are crucial to eliminate this pervasive issue.

Effective laws to end child labour in Pakistan should include Clear Definitions and Age Limits and Legislation should clearly define what constitutes child labour and establish a minimum age for employment in line with international standards. Laws should prohibit all forms of child labour, especially in hazardous industries, and outline strict penalties for violations to deter employers from engaging in exploitative practices. Under Article 25-A, compulsory education laws need to be strictly enforced to ensure that children are attending school rather than working. Access to free and quality education is essential to breaking the cycle of child labour.

Iftikhar Mubarak, Director Search for Justice, recommended that Effective child protection requires seamless interdepartmental coordination. Various departments, including health, education, social services, and law enforcement, each play a vital role in safeguarding children’s rights and well-being.

Coordination among these departments ensures that efforts to protect children are comprehensive, consistent, and efficient. In essence, interdepartmental coordination is crucial for creating a robust and responsive child protection system that can address the multifaceted needs of children and safeguard their rights effectively.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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