Every now and then when we go to a little eatery or a shop we hear a typical name called “Chotu” who is there to serve the customers. He wears extremely grimy garments however performs duty like a grown-up. He is the person who might be the main bread winner of the house and at such a youthful age is constrained by his work in industries, restaurants, shops and so on. A kid beneath the age of 18 who is forced by circumstances to work for cash with a specific end goal which is to buy the basic necessities of live is a sharp truth of our society.
Pakistan is confronting an ever-growing number of social issues but child labor is the one that is depriving our children of their childhood. It is affecting them physically as well as mentally. Our country is among the top in terms of illiteracy which is the root cause of child labor. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in 2005 that there would be 10-12 million child workers in Pakistan by 2010-11. According to an All-Pakistan Labor Force Survey, this number has almost doubled to about 21 million children workers and this is an alarming situation for our country. In developing countries, child labor is still prevailing due to lack of schools and poverty.
Child labor is not only harming children’s mentality but it is affecting their creativity too. Children who are engaged in labor ultimately lose their interest in education and move towards criminal activities. Pakistan has the second largest out of school population in the world with 7.26 million children out of school due to poverty. Another major cause of child labor is the urbanization where families migrate from rural to urban areas and then they face difficulties in settling, when their basic requirements are not fulfilled, they ask their children to get involved in some kind of labor, overlooking the fact that they are just kids.
There are three major areas in Pakistan that are usually taking large number of children as laborers. First sector is the Services, it includes Domestic work, working in hotels, restaurants, tea stalls and transportation. Second is the Industry sector includes Manufacturing glass bangles, surgical instruments, weaving carpets, stitching soccer balls etc. Last and the major contributor of this issue is the agricultural sector which includes Farming, including harvesting cotton, wheat, dates, and sugarcane.
There are different laws in Pakistan to stop child labor like The Employment of Children Act 1991 and The Employment of Children Rules 1995 but due to the non-serious attitude of the concerned authorities these and other related laws are not fully implemented in our society. Children are the future of our country and if our future is indulged in labor then that is the worst thing that can happen to a country.