Child labour in Pakistan: They have dreams like ours
Child labour refers to work done by children that harms them or exploits them either physically or mentally. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) defines a ‘child’ as anyone below the age of 18, and ‘child labour’ as any form of work performed by children below age 18.
On the way to university, a few days ago, I observed many children working in the streets of Quetta. Most of them were boys, between the age of 10 to 14. They were carrying an assortment of goods like paper, plastic, wood and pieces of metal in bags in order to sell these.
Looking at these children who should be playing, studying and enjoying their childhood, I felt deeply saddened. I decided to interview a few of them to gauge what their life is like. While I made some startling discoveries from children who worked day in and day out in order to survive, there were also those responses that left me heart-broken.
Main gareeb hun aur gareeb ki koe khwahish nhain.’
(I am poor, and poor people don’t have desires.)
This was the response from a young child when I asked him what his desires are.
I feel that today, on Labour Day, we should be giving attention to these poor children, who have now become part of the work force of Pakistan. Do they not deserve a childhood like yours and mine?
While government officials enjoy the luxury of their air-conditioned rooms, children like Noor Allah struggle all day in the heat to provide for their families.
According to the UNICEF, up to 10 million children are estimated to be working in Pakistan
Article 25a in the Constitution of Pakistan reads:
The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to 16 years in such manner as may be determined by law
I believe that this is the only solution to eradicate child labour in Pakistan. I hope that the government takes notice and ends the plight of these children.
Read more by Qaisar here or follow him on Twitter @qasirroonjha
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