KARACHI: On the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour being observed today, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Sharmila Farooqui said on Saturday that 3.3 million of Pakistani children are forced in child labor due to different circumstances, depriving them of their childhood, their health and education while the number of children in labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, with an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years and with millions more at risk due to the impacts of COVID-19.


“A high rise in the number of children aged 5 to 11 years in child labour is alarming which needs to be stopped forthwith. The new child labor cases rise is a wake-up call for Pakistan. We cannot stand by while a new generation of children is put at risk,” she said in a statement on the eve of World Day Against Child Labour.


She says this year, the theme of World Day Against Child Labour is ‘Act Now: End Child Labour’. The day aims to spread awareness about the illegal practice of child labour that haunts Pakistan and other countries of the world, she added.


Sharmila called for taking hectic steps to free children from child labor. Sharmila says in Sindh, 21.5 percent of children ages 5 to 14 are working as child labor. About 11 million children in Pakistan perform domestic tasks and work in agriculture. Other children work alongside their families as bonded laborers in the brick industry. She said: “The use of this type of forced child labor in Pakistan happens in the brick, carpet and coal industries. Pakistan has the world’s second-highest number of children who do not attend school. Only 60.6 percent of children in Sindh Province between the ages of 5 to 14 attend school with 11.6 percent combining work and school.”


She said children, mostly from poor families, are forced to work in hazardous conditions despite facing physical, mental and social exploitation from employers while such children are deprived of living their childhood while many also miss the opportunity of attending schools. She asked the federal government and social organizations to reduce child labor as under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Pakistan has committed to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking as well as secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including the recruitment and use of child soldiers and by 2025, end child labour in all its forms.


Sharmila said that the future of any nation rests in the hands of the youth because the youth of any state takes responsibility for the progress or downfall of their country. The state can only make progress if the youth is educated and sensible. And the youth might be fruitful if it is socialized in a progressive way.


“Child labor is the growing curse in the world particularly in the developing countries and Pakistan is also the victim of this growing global phenomenon because of multiple reasons behind which encourage intentionally or unintentionally the dilemma of child labor. Child labor had multiple side effects that disturb the social fabric of the society and its growing statistics alarms the government of Pakistan to take the most possible and appropriate measures to combat this curse,” she said.


She said millions more children risk being pushed into child labour in Pakistan as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, which could lead to the first rise in child labour. There is urgent need to take hectic efforts to save children from labor.


Sharmila said one of the key areas of decent work deficit in Pakistan is poor occupational safety and health at the workplace in both formal and informal sectors. “Most of the enterprises in the organized sectors are not aware of these risks and hazards, and often they do not see the importance and urgency of addressing those risks and hazards. Pakistan is one of the largest labour sending countries in the region,” she informed.