Children are being abused in Pakistan on one pretext or another. Many factory owners justify employing children on the ground that they learn a trade and at the same time earn a living for themselves and their families. This is a bad excuse and the employers are simply fooling themselves as well as others. The main idea behind this distressing practice is that it reduces the cost of production as children are not paid as high wages as adults. Also, child labourers are easy to control then adults and would be more likely to spend long hours in poor working condition without complaining or making a ruckus. And in the case of any accident, there would be no question of giving them any compensation against injury or disability.

There are certain trades which seem to have been earmarked for child labour in this country, and these include carpet weaving, sport goods and surgical instruments, embroidery work in cloth shops and working as chotay in car repair shops, etc. Children make the cheapest and weakest workforce and are most susceptible to abuse. Pakistan is an signatory to the UN Convention on the rights of the child of 1989 and is therefore, bound to protect children form economic exploitation. To put children to work for money would be also immoral. Working children are not healthy children and nor are they happy. As a matter if fact, they are deprived of the joy of childhood. They have no time to play or to cheerfully spend time with their siblings.

A child has the right to education and cannot be made to work in any manner. Pakistan is lagging behind in literacy in any case and needs to come down hard on child labour. If we do not wakeup now, we shall be doomed.


Karachi, April 16.