BY Asim Shahzad
Civil Society Organizations working under the umbrella of Children Advocacy Network- CAN Pakistan and National Commission for Human Rights (Punjab) reiterated the dire need of compressive strategy to deal with the issue of Child Labour in general and child domestic labour in Pakistan in particular.
This was urged during an event jointly arranged by Search for Justice, Children Advocacy Network- CAN Pakistan and National Commission for Human Rights (Punjab) in collaboration with UNICEF Pakistan to commemorate World Day Against Child Labour. 12 June marks the World Day Against Child Labour under the theme “Universal Social Protection to End Child Labour.” On this day, NCHR and Children Advocacy Network together with its member organizations from 14 different district of Punjab, called for increased investment in social protection systems and schemes to establish solid social protection floors and protect children from child labour.
Rashida Qureshi Coordinator Children Advocacy Network mentioned that child labour is a violation of best interest of the child and a major reason for denial of children’s rights to education, protection, survival and development, leisure and play and participating in matters related to them.
Hence the government might need to apply child-sensitive designs that consider the potential implications in terms of child labour, in the different sectors where children work.
This can include sensitization on children’s rights, or provision of information on the hazards related to child labour.
In combination, positive “messaging” on the relevance of promoting education over labour can make the difference.
Nadeem Ashraf Member National Commission for Human Rights (Punjab) highlighted the need for having a comprehensive strategy to uplift marginalized segments of society with a clear dimension to end child labour.
He mentioned the progressive legal framework of Punjab to address the issue of child labour and child domestic labour hence implementation requires more concreate actions to get the targets in accordance with Pakistan’s International obligations under UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO Convention No. 138 & 182 and Sustainable Development Goal’s target 8.7 which clearly says for taking immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
There is absolute need to establish a concreate coordination mechanism at the provincial level to deal with all aspects of child protection in an holistic manner particularly for improved implementation of child labour laws, said by Mr. Asraf.
Iftikhar Mubarik Executive Director Search for Justice showed its concern over lack of measures for implementation of legal provision available in The Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 which prohibits the admission of children under the age of 15 years in domestic labour.
It must a matter of concern for the parliament that since 2019 not even a single case had been registered against those who contravened the legal provisions.
Surprisingly after the Tayyaba Case in which a minor girl was tortured we are not able to find another example in which sentence was awarded in such cases where children were the victim of Cruelty by their employers in particular.
Keeping in view the magnitude of child labour and its different forms it is unavoidable to create strategic partnerships between relevant government departments, Trade Unions, CSOs, private sector and academia to curb the menace of economic exploitation of children, said by Mr. Mubarik.
To make sure the children voices are reflected and heard by the decision makers, a panel of children also spoken at the event and put their charter of demand to the government officials with focus on taking all possible legislative, administrative and other measures for implementation of laws enacted to deal with child labour.
Enactment of comprehensive law to deal with all aspects of child labour with primary view to establish referral and case management system in the province of Punjab. Development and finalization of child protection policy and action plan to end all forms of violence, abuse and exploitation against children.
Zahida Manzoor UNICEF Pakistan’s Child Protection Officer shared that Labour & Human Resource Department with the technical support of UNICEF has completed the child labour survey and result will be disseminated soon by the government.
The Child Labour survey was conducted after 1996 and new statistics gathered though this survey will be used as evidence for designing of schemes and programs for elimination of child labour.