ISLAMABAD/LAHORE - World Day Against Child Labour was observed across the globe including Pakistan on Thursday to raise awareness of the plight of child laborers worldwide.

The Day was observed to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.

Theme for 2014 is: "Extend social protection: combat child labour."

Awareness walks, seminars and special campaigns arranged by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Employees Federation of Pakistan (EFP), Association of Network for Community Empowerment (ANCE) and other stakeholder are being held to mark the Day.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it.

Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.

Around the world, large numbers of children are engaged in paid or unpaid domestic work in the home of a third party or employer. These children can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Their work is often hidden from the public eye, they may be isolated, and they may be working far away from their family home. Stories of the abuse of children in domestic work are all too common.     

Child labour is especially rampant in many developing countries - but even in industrialized nations many children are forced to work. In 2011, there were an estimated 215 million child labourers in the world- 115 million of which were involved in hazardous work. On the occasion, Punjab Labour Minister Raja Ashfaq Sarwar urged District Labour Officers to improve performance regarding elimination of child labour, registration of kiln workers, checking of weight and measures and imposing fine on violations.

In Lahore, Punjab Child Rights Movement (CRM) regretted over government’s lethargic attitude towards social security mechanisms for millions of workers.

This was expressed by various child rights experts during a press conference at Lahore Press Club to mark the day. The CRM representatives said more than 25 deaths of child domestic workers had been reported in the province. “Moreover, the Punjab government has not notified child domestic labour as hazardous form of child labour under the The Employment of Children Act (Amendment) 2011,” they held.

Child Rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik urged the government to include the Child Domestic Labour in the schedule of banned occupations under the governing law “The Children’s Employment Act (Amendment) 2011”.

He urged the Punjab chief minister and Minister for Labour & Human Resource Department to look into the matter personally.

“The government should protect children from work that is dangerous or might harm their health or their education,” he added. Article 19 of the convention also states “Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them”.  Iftikhar said: “It is also the responsibility of provincial government to come up with the Child Protection Policy without any further delay to set the milestones to ensure the protection of Children from all kinds of abuse and exploitation. The government may initiate the comprehensive social protection schemes and program for social and economic uplifting of the parents/ adults including the income generation program for the women and grass root level.”  Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, CRM focal person, and Salman Ahmad said there was more than 72 million labour force in Punjab; 90 per cent of them was without social security protection and the remaining 10 per cent were victims of poor social security coverage.