Child labor is the employment of children for work which causes them mental, physical, moral and social harm. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that in the 1990s, 11 million children were working in the country, half of which were under the age of 10.
More than 12.5 million children are involved in child labor in Pakistan. According to Reuters, “Pakistan’s Labor Force Survey, 2014-15 showed that of those children aged between 10 and 14 years active in child labor, 61 percent were boys and 88 percent came from rural areas.”
The International Labor Organization (ILO) suggests that poverty is the greatest cause for child labor in Pakistan. As of 2008, 17.2% of the total population lives below the poverty line, which is the lowest figure in the history of Pakistan. Over the years the government of Pakistan has taken several measures to put an end to child labor.
The Children Support Program is one which given money to parents to send their children to school rather than to work and is eligible for children from the age of 5 to 16. So far the government has distributed almost $3 million to families.
In 2017 a bill passed by the Sindh Government called, The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill banned children under the age of 14 to work. The law also prohibit children from the age of 13 to 19 from working between the hours of 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. and for those who opt to work are only allowed to work three hours a day. The bill also states that anyone caught not abiding by the law will be imprisoned for six months and fined Rs. 50,000. It also states that factory owners or offenders caught with child labor taking place in dangerous workplaces will be sentenced to imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 100,000.
Several NGO groups have also been creating awareness against child labor in Pakistan. An NGO called Save the Children has been working with the sporting goods manufacturers represented by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce, and Industry and their international partner brands, represented by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry. This joint venture makes sure that no children are employed in the stitching of footballs factories.
Child labor over the years has slowly decreased and will continue to decrease in Pakistan until it is completely eliminated with the help of measures taken by the government and awareness created by NGOs.