(AsiaNews) - "We have no hopes with present legislators and policy-makers", said
Master Muzafar Hussain and Master Qaiser Mehmood, respectively 14 and 12. "We
live on our own. The leaders are least bothered about the street-children's
welfare," the two brothers told AsiaNews.
hardships and deprivations, the two have not lost hope for a brighter future. In
the morning, they go to school, and in the afternoon, instead of playing or
doing homework, they go into streets to sell electronic gadgets and toys "Because
our father does not earn enough for the family." Conscious of the situation, "We
have to give up our leisure time and economically help our parents."
civil society celebrated World Day against Child Labour, the two boys went
through the same routine of work, dedication and sacrifice yesterday.
exploitation in agriculture was the theme of the tenth edition of the event
sponsored by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In farming, about 70
per cent of the workforce is under the age of 18.
to SPARC, a Pakistan child rights NGO, child labour is widespread in many sectors
of society, "from light jobs to hazardous tasks." Recent estimates "indicate
that around 11-12 million children are employed as child labourers, half of
them under the age of ten."
the morning, Hussain and Mehmood attend grade 9 and 6 class at a public school
in Lahore. Once they put away their books, they head out to sell toys, balloons
and electronic accessories until 9 PM.
asked what they thought about the World Day against Child Labour, they said, "We
do not know what it is." They do know however that by working, "our younger brothers
can get a standard education."
the younger of the two, cannot hide his desire "to play with his schoolmates in
the evening, but I cannot do it because my mother says: 'We need the money'."
12-year-old has no "specific demands" for the government, but he does hope that
one day he can "travel by car, study in a standard school and spend times with friends."
the future, he wants to become an engineer to leave behind his present
hardships. His 14-year-old brother shares the same hopes. With a book in one
hand and goods to sell in the other, he too walks the streets of the city.
people discourage me and do not allow me to get close to their cars or kids,"
feels hurt by people's hatred or contempt towards him because he is "poor and a
labourer". He also feels "embarrassment" when some of his schoolmates see him
the boys' father Shair Muhammad shows up on his motorbike. He too sells toys he
carries on his bike.
trying to educate my children the best I can," he told AsiaNews. "I'd like to give them a better education, but they have
to work hard."
is proud of them and their economic contribution to the family; he is also not
shy to criticise the government for "its unsatisfactory progress and poor
policies" for children.
him, "It's because of poor governance and unequal distribution of resources in