Three million Pak children engaged in labour: UNICEF

Last Updated: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 15:13

Lahore: At least three million children in Pakistan are engaged in labour and thousands others are languishing in jails due to a complicated prosecution process, according to the UNICEF.
"The cases of thousands of children are pending in courts for a long time due to the complex prosecution process," said UNICEF child protection specialist, Shamshad Qureshi.

He called for the simplification of the prosecution process.

Giving in to international pressure, Pakistan has banned child labour in hazardous professions like tanneries, scavenging, making of surgical instruments and glass bangles, coal mining and fishing. But on the ground, practically nothing is being done to implement the law, say experts.

According to a UNICEF report, children associated with hazardous professions are "extremely exposed" to terminal diseases. Hundreds of them have already contracted different diseases.

Children work in all operations related to leather tanning, mixing or application of pesticides and insecticides, sandblasting and other work involving exposure to free silica.

This work also exposes them to toxins and dangerous chemicals.

They are hired to work in the manufacturing and sale of fireworks, explosives, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG), glass and metal furnaces, cloth printing and dyeing.

Children are also made to work in sewer pipelines, pits and storage tanks, stone crushing, lifting and carrying of heavy weights especially in the transport industry.

The reports reveal that children also work in hotels, carpet weaving, tobacco processing and manufacturing units, the wool industry, ship breaking and spice grinding sites, boiler houses and cinemas.

Child labour in the informal sector, like domestic help, small workshops, hotels and restaurants, are not usually considered as labour by the government.

Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is committed to child rights like survival, health, education and protection.

Though there are several other laws like the Factories Act 1934, West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance 1969, Employment of Children Act 1991, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 and Punjab Compulsory Primary Education Act 1994, they are hardly being implemented, say child right activists.

Bureau Report



First Published: Sunday, October 25, 2009 - 15:13

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