Forced begging and extreme poverty

KARACHI: On the streets of Karachi, children are engaged in selling flowers, toys, cold water, cleaning car windows in order to earn a few rupees for survival, and support to their families. Among these are many children who are being forced to beg on the streets of Karachi, sometimes by their own families, and often by a mafia. Forced begging is one of the worst forms of child labour in Pakistan, which is a major issue especially in developing countries. The only time police can take action against such elements is when someone lodges a complaint. Once a child is recovered by the police in such operations, they then search for the child’s parents. In case a child has no kin, police handover the child to a shelter home, explained a senior police officer. In 2012, as many as 2,317 children disappeared from Karachi, of which only 16 percent were rescued according to Roshni Helpline, a Karachi-based civil society group. This year, in the month of July, on the complaint of Ramesh, father of a missing child, Docks police conducted targeted raids in Gizri and busted a gang of kidnappers, and claimed to have rescued 11 under-aged children who were being forced to beg. The children, aged between eight and 15 years, belonged to different regions of the country and were mostly kidnapped from Punjab and Sindh. According to police officials, the children were kidnapped specifically for the purpose of forced begging. In Pakistan alone, more than 10 million children are engaged in child labour and reports say that 300,000 of the total are in Sindh. As per a UN estimate from 2005, there are 1.2 million to 1.5 million children on Pakistan’s streets, though the activists claim the numbers are rising. It is a dire time to think about street children, because they are the ones who in their later years often get involved in criminal activities and other social evils. Street children in Karachi are aged between six and 15 years, most of them are often beggars and also forced into sex work due to many reasons. They mainly belong to large families who live below the ultra poverty level, and since their parents are absolutely uneducated and unskilled, they are unable to earn sufficient amounts to raise their children. Often these parents do not enrol their children in schools. In order to put all these iniquities, and put all children in schools, authorities need to reach to every section of society and make sure each and every child has access to education and a safe environment. Despite that there are hundreds of laws and institutions working on this issue, none are able to achieve the desired results. According to experts, the best approach to solve this issue and turn these young souls into productive members of society is a partnership between the civil society, NGOs, government and most importantly the media. It can play its role by spreading public service messages through online broadcasting. saud khan

World Day against Child Labour

World Day against child labour

‘Enslavement and exploitation of children must end’

By Ahtesham Azhar

KARACHI: With similar renewed pledges as of yesteryears to eliminate exploitation of child labour, their empowerment and granting them their due rights, the global Child Labour Day was observed on Wednesday (CLD).

The world have been observing the day since 2002 after recognised by the United Nation.

Every year on June 12, the day brings together governments, employers and workers organisations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plights facing child labourers and measures to eliminate them.

However, despite the day being observed for almost a decade, it is the ever increasing issue in Pakistan particularly in urban areas of the country such as Karachi.

Throughout the city, a large numbers of children are engaged in paid or unpaid domestic work in homes, besides working on shops and factories on daily wages. These children are mostly vulnerable
to exploitation.

Talking to Daily Times, SPARC National Head, Rashid Aziz said, “Child Labour Day objective is to eliminate the issue.” Children working as domestic servants in households are increasingly becoming victims at the hands of their employers and government should pay urgent attention to their woes, he said.

He was of the view, “From 2010 to 2013, almost 40 cases have been reported out of which around 30 children have met death and in last six months of 2013, another 13 cases have been reported out of we have lost nine more lives.”

He was of the view that, alike population census, last child labour survey was conducted in 1996 which estimated that around 3.3 million underage labourers working in Pakistan. Children working in households are currently not covered under the Employment of Children Act of 1991.

While the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reports the number of child labourers in Pakistan above 12 million now, UNICEF estimates the number to be around 10 million.

According to the Child Rights Movement, approximately 9.86 million children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 are an active part of the labour force in Pakistan. Around 2.58 million of these children are aged between 10 and 14. Child Labour Act only covered formal sector, which means agriculture sector and domestic child workers do not come under this law, Aziz asserted. “Need of the hour is to introduce multi strategies to tackle the situation.”

“SPARC’s priority is to urge government to impose ban on domestic child labour as it is not only child labour but a new and modern slavery system in our society.”

Aziz further said, “Cases of child abuse and tortures have been reported too often in a last few years. “Therefore, our top priority and demand is to impose a complete ban on child domestic labour,” he said.

He urged the provincial governments to legislate on child labour laws, which should comprehensively ban underage labour in all formal and informal economic sectors.

The government should give legal status to these camps and arrange for the provision of clean drinking water, durable shelter, electricity, health and educational facilities to get freed bonded peasants.

There was no existence of Child Labour Act in Pakistan but it was copied from India in 1991, however, the need of the hour is to revise it and government should impose ban on domestic child labour, which is the worst sector against society. There is no mechanism to protect domestic child labour, he concluded.