Child labor in Pakistan is the employment of children for work in Pakistan, which causes mental, physical, moral and social harm to children. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in the 1990s, 11 million children were working in the country, half of which were under the age of ten. In 1996, the median age for a child entering the work force was seven, down from eight years old in 1994. It was estimated that one quarter of the country’s work force was made up of children.[2] In a city of Pakistan, Hyderabad children enter work force at the age of 4 or 5 years old making bangles and bracelets. They make around 12 sets (per set containing 65 bangles) and only receive Rs.40 which takes around 2 to 3 days. This is not just a situation of Hyderabad but all other Katchi Abadis of Pakistan.
As of 2012, it is estimated that 96 percent of working boys in urban areas were employed in the wholesale and retail industry. The following 22 percent in the service industry and 22 percent in manufacturing. As for the girls, 48 percent were employed in the service industry, while 52 percent were employed in manufacturing. In rural areas, 68 percent of working boys were joined by 82 percent of working girls. In the wholesale and retail industry the percentage of girl were 11 percent followed by 11 percent in manufacturing. Child labour in Pakistan is perhaps most rampant in the city of Multan, which is an important production centre for export goods.
Football stitching
By the late 1990s, Pakistan had come to account for 75 percent of total world production of footballs (or “soccer” balls in the US), and 71 percent of all soccer ball imports into the United States. The International Labour Rights Forum and allies called attention to rampant child labour, in the soccer ball industry. According to investigations, thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 14 were putting in as many as 10 to 11 hours of stitching per day.[13] Then, the
Child labour remains one of the major problems afflicting Pakistan and its children. Pakistan has passed laws in an attempt to limit child labour, but those laws are universally ignored. Some 11 million children, aged four to fourteen, keep the country’s factories operating, often working in cruel and neglected condition.
In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor reported 9 goods of which 6 are produced by child labourers in Pakistan. These include the making of bricks, carpets, glass bangles, leather and surgical instruments, as well as cool mining.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) suggests that poverty is the greatest single cause behind child labour. Pakistan has a per-capita income of approximately $1900. A middle class person in Pakistan earns around $6 a day on average. The average Pakistani has to feed nine or ten people with their daily wage. As of 2008, 17.2% of the total population lives below the poverty line, which is the lowest figure in the history of Pakistan. Poverty levels in Pakistan appear to necessitate that children work in order to allow families to reach their target take‐home pay. For companies, the low cost of child labour gives manufacturers a significant advantage in the Western market place, where they undersell their competitors from countries which prohibiting child labour. According to a recent research conducted , a main cause of child labour in the fishing sector on the Balochistan coast was the low quality of education, lack of job prospects, and lack of progress in the region. It was found that in this particular province that there are high drop out rates and low literacy rates.The researchers believe that if policies focus on bettering education that it will help aid the effort of reducing the amount of child labour.
Government policies on Child Labour
A number of laws contain provisions prohibiting child labour, or regulating the working conditions of child and teenager workers. The most important laws are:
• The Factories Act 1934.
• The West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance 1969.
• The Employment of Children Act 1991
• The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1992.
• The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994
International Labour Organization, and the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed the Partners’ Agreement to Eliminate Child Labour in the Soccer Industry in Pakistan on February 14, 1997.
Measures to be taken:
1. All Provincial Labor Departments should strictly monitor all business centre, factories, wholesalers where the child labor is deployed and make sure that the child labor is employed as per Factories Act and all the facilities are being provided properly.
2. In case of non-compliance of the labor laws, heavy fines are to be imposed to the concerns.
3. No child below the age of fourteen years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment.