Press conference of Civil Society Organisations held on the occasion of 'World Day Against Child Labour'

LAHORE: Child labor remains a significant issue in Pakistan, despite ongoing efforts to address it. The country faces various socio-economic challenges that hinder the effective elimination of child labor, said Bushra Khaliq in a press conference held at Lahore Press Club today.  She said that against this backdrop, the Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) organization has been documenting reported cases of violence against domestic workers in Punjab, focusing on both girls and boys. These statistics have been collected through daily newspapers and websites, she added . 

Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director of WISE, highlighted that between January 1, 2019, and May 31, 2024, a total of 147 cases were reported in the province of Punjab. Tragically, 28 girls died and 119 were severely injured. The victims, aged between 7 and 20 years, predominantly came from the districts of Lahore, Faisalabad, and Kasur.

Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, Coordinator of the Child Rights Movement (CRM),stated that on this International Day Against Child Labor, these figures underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address and prevent such violence, safeguard individuals from harm, and ensure justice for victims. He emphasized the necessity of fully enforcing the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019, which aims to protect domestic workers' rights by regulating their employment terms, working conditions, and ensuring a minimum wage of 32,000 PKR, a minimum age of 16 years for domestic workers, and provisions for social welfare.

During the press conference Tanveer Jahan, Executive Director of the Democratic Commission for Human Development, remarked that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, provides a comprehensive framework for protecting and promoting children's rights. A critical area of focus within this treaty is the eradication of child labor.

Syed Miqdad Mehdi, Child Rights Activist, suggested that ending child labor in Pakistan requires implementing and enforcing effective laws to protect children's rights and ensure their well-being. While progress has been made, more robust legislative measures are essential to eliminate this pervasive issue. Effective laws should include clear definitions and age limits, align with international standards, and prohibit all forms of child labor, especially in hazardous industries. Strict penalties should deter employers from exploitative practices. Additionally, under Article 25-A, compulsory education laws must be strictly enforced to ensure children attend school rather than work. Access to free and quality education is vital to breaking the cycle of child labor.
Iftikhar Mubarak, Director of Search for Justice,** recommended that effective child protection requires seamless interdepartmental coordination. Various departments—including health, education, social services, and law enforcement—play vital roles in safeguarding children's rights and well-being. Coordination among these departments ensures comprehensive, consistent, and efficient efforts to protect children. This interdepartmental coordination is crucial for creating a robust and responsive child protection system that addresses the multifaceted needs of children and effectively safeguards their rights.

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