By: Zara Maqbool The Sindh Assembly has collectively passed a bill against employment of children below the age of 14, which makes child labor an offence carrying a punishment of prison term and fine. The Bill states up to six-months’ imprisonment and a fine up to Rs.50, 000 for the offenders. And if a child...
By: Zara Maqbool
The Sindh Assembly has collectively passed a bill against employment of children below the age of 14, which makes child labor an offence carrying a punishment of prison term and fine. The Bill states up to six-months’ imprisonment and a fine up to Rs.50, 000 for the offenders. And if a child is employed for a hazardous job, the prison term may be extended up to three years with Rs.100, 000 fine. According to the bill, no establishment or factory could employ a child less than aged 14.
Where this bill is highly commendable, one also hopes that not only implementation takes place but also a strict system is in place that will ensure that the lawbreakers are held accountable.
But how will the children who work at homes will be protected? Recently I saw a ten years old girl accompanying a well know TV celebrity in dirty clothes carrying the celebrity’s smart phone and her child’s jacket. The expression on her face was hardened with what seemed like years of pain and tiredness and she looked much older than her age. And this celebrity is known for protecting against social abuse. Such blatant hypocrisy baffles me and makes me wonder how one can sleep at night with such injustice?
Most of us are familiar with little girl Tayyaba who was tortured by an influential judge’s family. To be working in such a prestigious household and to be abused in such a way sent many shockwaves across the country. But how often does such abuse get reported or something is done about it? Mostly its little children with their little hands working as adults, forgotten innocence and a childhood that is the most precious time of a person’s life. How do we protect these children whose parents leave them in strangers homes because they are unable to feed them or financially afford them?
I have seen many cases of abuse and where I have displayed courage in reaching out to the employer once in a while hoping to shame him into what he is doing, at times I am unable to do anything. The government needs to safeguard these children working at homes too and pass a law that does not allow them domestic employment.
But naturally when our leaders are too busy filling their pockets, why would they pass a law that will make their ethics and duties in question. At the end of the day it is the state’s responsibility to provide food and shelter for these kids.
Those of us who expect 9 or 10 years old children to carry our over weight babies console ourselves with the thought process that at least we are providing them food and shelter. I on the other hand believe that domestic helpers whether under age or otherwise are taken for granted. We undoubtedly pay them less than we should be whereas we make them work 24/7 in many households.
Why can’t we build more shelters for children and at least provide them basic education? Why do we need the Edhis of the world to take care of such a basic and significant matter? Our country’s future gets wasted on the roads that we are so busy building and improving. I know these words mean nothing with the way things are in Pakistan but I don’t know any other way of expressing my frustration.
Pakistan currently ranks third when it comes to child labor whereas internationally the numbers are declining. In spite of these bills being passed, my heart goes out for the thousands of children who are domestically employed dependent on the compassion and good will of their employers. I can only hope and pray that humanity prevails and we can be kind and benevolent towards these kids who are separated from their families but made to work beyond their capacity; physically and emotionally abused.