LAHORE - The Children Advocacy Network (CAN) Pakistan has demanded urgent action by Punjab Government for banning Child Domestic Labour, to prevent Children from abuse and exploitation.

The demand was made during a seminar on “Child Domestic labour: A Contemporary form of Slavery” arranged jointly by Lahore College for Women University and Children Advocacy Network (CAN) under its youth engagement for Child Protection program.

CAN Pakistan’s Youth Engagement Officer Nazeefa Fatima shared that despite occurring of around 36 deaths in result of torture by their employers, the Punjab government still did not come with necessary legal, administrative, financial and other measures to prevent and respond to this kind of violence against children in the province. She also stressed that youth should put demands for establishment of Child Protection System in front of government and other political parties.

“Youth can play a positive role in influencing the government for investing in Protection of Children from abuse and exploitation,” Nazeefa added.

WISE Executive Director Bushra Khaliq shared that Employment of children in households was totally against spirit of the Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, and the Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014 which emphasized and guaranteed free and compulsory education to children from 5 to 16 years of age. “But, in child domestic labour, these slave children are not only deprived of right to education but from the right to health services, right to survival, right to food, right to proper care, right to development, right to have friends, right to play, right to enjoy free time and right to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation,” she added.

In her viewpoint, Child Domestic Labour is promoting the class difference among children which can also leave negative impacts of a Child’s Psychological and emotional well being.

Bushra also shared that the government couldn’t make excuse for delaying in enactment of necessary legislation for prohibition of Child Domestic Labour, as the delay in prohibition would be resulting violations of child’s best interest.

Iftikhar Mubarik from Plan International Pakistan shared that due to given nature of child domestic work, international community and the UN rapporteur of contemporary forms of slavery have declared it a form of slavery. He further asked to initiate schemes for rehabilitation of child domestic workers through education and skill training and make social safety nets available to families of CDWs.

Working Women Organization’s Executive Director Aima Mehmood shared that civil society can’t replace the government role and primary responsibility of Child Protection stays at the part of government. She also criticized the government unconcerned in addressing the issues of abuse and exploitation affecting the lives of children especially adolescent girls who are becoming different forms of abuse and exploitation. She also urged the government to immediately ban child domestic labour in the province by issuing a notification under the Schedule of Banned Occupation given in the Employment of Children (AMENDMENT) Act, 2011, Punjab, or if any technical problem is there to ban it under ECA then it can be addressed by making some special law.

Chief guest of the seminar, Child Protection & Welfare Bureau (CPWB) Chairperson Saba Sadiq, also endorsed the suggestion to put a ban on child domestic labour, to prevent children from exploitation. She shared that CPWB rescued four Child Domestic Labourer recently from Lahore, who were being physically abused by their employers, and necessary legal action under PPC has been launched against culprits.

She stressed the collaboration of CSOs, academia, media and governmental departments for ensuring the protection of children.