06/12/2014, 00.00
PAKISTAN

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Faisalabad: Christian and Muslim activists united against child labour

by Shafique Khokhar
Today is World Day Against Child Labour. Activists make an appeal to the government to ensure the right of studying and actions to protect children and minors. Harmful effects of child labour on children, the economy and nation. Obligation of the state to ensure the right to free and compulsory education for all children.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - The government must strengthen the system to inspect and curb child labour, and put an immediate ban on domestic child labour to stop exploitation of children, and raise awareness about the harmful effects of child labour on children, the economy and nation. These demands were made by the participants of a Demonstration under "Red Card to Child Labour Campaign" (pictured), held today in front of Faisalabad Press Club to mark World Day against Child Labour. The demonstration was staged by the Peace and Human Development (PHD Foundation), Lawyers Association for Human Rights (LAHR), Adara Samaji Behbood (ASB), Pakistan Interfaith Peace Council and Human Rights, and Awareness and Development Organization (ADO). The event was joined by children, youth and adults hailing from different communities, carrying banner and red cards to oppose child labour.

"Child labour will not come to an end unless awareness is increased and poverty is decreased, and goal of compulsory universal primary education is achieved" PHD Foundation director Suneel Malik says. AWAM coordinator Shazia George focus her attention on "employment of children in domestic labour", that is "hard to ascertain because of its highly informal or hidden nature". 

A Muslim lawyer, Nosheen Najeeb, asks government to "conduct comprehensive survey to assess the extent of child labour including boned and forced labour, and to ascertain the number of street children in Pakistan. Once this information is at hand, then the government must strengthen its efforts to formulate and implement more informed and effective policies." Same opinion from Muslim lawyer Majahid Gillani that terms "the excuses given to justify child labour, such as poverty and unemployment" as "lame" and "the real causes are lack of will, concern, commitment and sincerity by authorities to protect children from exploitation" he adds.

Social activist Irshad Parkash notes: "Pakistan has the second largest out-of-school population in the world with 7.3 million children of primary age not attending any school. It is the obligation of the state primarily and then duty bearers to ensure the right to free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of five and 16 years." Younas Shahzad asks government to create "literacy centers in all districts to facilitate enrollment of children most prone to worst forms of child labour, and provide them with free education, clothing, footwear and stipend as well as subsistence allowance to their parents."

According to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), in Pakistan it is common practice to use child labor in different sectors, from employment in lighter tasks to the heaviest and most dangerous jobs. Recent estimates, add the activists of the group, show that "between 11 and 12 million children, half of them under age 10, are exploited for work" across the country.

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