SHEIKHUPURA-Despite the enforcement of laws against child labour, the plight of child laborers remains unaddressed due to the non-implementation of the laws, as per a non-profit organisation.

On the World Day against Child Labour, it demanded a comprehensive child labour survey across all the provinces for the attainment of concrete facts and figures in this regard. It would help the policymakers apply targeted interventions to help curb the menace.

The NGO office-bearer explained, “The last National Child Labour Survey was carried out more than 20 years ago in 1996, which estimated around 3.3 million children working in Pakistan. According to a 2015 study by the ILO, it is estimated that 5.7 million 10-17 year old kids, representing almost 20% of all children in the age group are laborers.”

These numbers however account mostly for those children employed in the agricultural sectors whereas a large proportion of children working within the informal economy are completely unaccounted for, the female office-bearers said. For instance, the closest figures that are available for the prevalence of domestic child labour are from a 2004 ILO report which states this number as 264,000 children, she added.

The number appears quite far from the truth considering not only demographic changes over the last decade, but also the lack of initiatives taken to curb this menace, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) Executive Director Saadia Hussain noted. She disclosed that some 22.6 million children are still out of schools in the country. This is in direct contradiction to Article 25-A of the constitution under which every Pakistani child between 5-16 years of age has the right to free and compulsory education.

It has been over seven years since this law was passed and there still remain glaring gaps in its implementation, especially considering the plight of millions of children working as child labourers in various industries across the country, she said. As part of its efforts of raising greater awareness on this issue, SPARC has organised petition signing events at major public locations across the country to help raise awareness regarding this issue. The petitions allow ordinary citizens a chance to stand in solidarity with the millions of children working in various fields, factories, workshops and homes and urge the authorities to take necessary action against such injustices, she added.