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April 04, 2006

Child Labor

Like many other international trends, the child labors, which is certainly at the top of the comprehensive agenda, once again has been adopted as a trendy agenda in Pakistan by the escalating NGO sector and public sector. Child labor is a multi-dimensional concern and the organizations involved in reproving it have their own perspectives, objectives and interests. As its the trend in Pakistan that initially the issues are being focused again and again and then put it in the side of a paper with no intentions of demystifying this complex. The ILO conventions variously define the appropriate minimum age of work as age 15 or under 14 in developing nations; while, in Convention 182, the Definition of the "worst" forms of work applies to all children under age 18. Governments do not always use 18 as the cut-off point for defining a "child." International organizations such a UNICEF, and some social scientists make a distinction between "child work" (not objectionable) and "child labors" (objectionable).In Pakistan the maid servant of the kids of a number of well to do families is a child girl and it has become a fashion like. The boy looking after many household chores in our huge villas instead of going to school is often a child. The workshops for our cars are contingent on a mechanic who is the well-known"Chhota." These children are also serving tea and snacks in tuck shops, hotels, and college and office canteens. Who are these children? Are they child laborers or child workers? All of them hail from poor families with more mouths to feed than hands to earn? Are not these children, who are putting so much sweat for a large family to survive, personified violation of human rights and a big slap in the face of our socio-political system? Should their efforts be interpreted as the widely hated child labors or much respected dignity of labors championed by the West? In Pakistan millions of children are under this stress and we have not yet paid much attention towards this issue as it has many affects on our industries as well like bane of exports and duties etc. Only in Punjab 60 % of the total exist. Only saying that child labor should be eradicated has no practical method. Has someone thought beyond raising the point? What would happen to the already terrible predicament of the teeming millions who get " too much to die and too little to live" through their children? One by no means, is in favor of bonded work done by children and this is the real scenario of Pakistan. One is also fully aware of the occupational hazards and psychosomatic disorders associated with such situations. We as a nation have to develop the art and science of looking into the issues through our own lens rather than accepting the visions created elsewhere. It is more applicable to a complex problem like child labor than anything else. Govt should take certain measures and regulate new laws to eradicate this issue.

Musarat gul
Mohammad Ali Jinnah University Islamabad

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