Stories about child labour

He only did it for him

“You’re an old boy now, you’ll have to work. Azeem is a good man. He’ll take care of you and you’ll learn from him.” “Fine, Abba!” Talha could feel the disobedience stirring within him. Working at a furniture shop was the last thing he wanted to do, but he acquiesced to Abba’s decision. He knew Abba wouldn’t listen to him, even if he told him that he wanted to do other things in life. Better things. Later that night, as he wandered the streets, he thought how it wasn’t Abba’s fault. He was old now and needed someone else to take care ...

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#JusticeForUzma: Another year, another child, another bill, another promise

Recently, the body of a 16-year-old girl was found dumped in a drain in Lahore. The girl’s name was Uzma, and she was a domestic worker for a family living in the Iqbal Town area. Uzma was allegedly tortured and killed by her employers, who have now been arrested for further investigation. This case could have gone down as just another murder of an ill-fated child domestic worker in Pakistan, but the circumstances of her death outraged the whole country. Plz help us raise voice to get justice for the little Uzma. #Justice4Uzma was brutally tortured and then murdered by the ...

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Haiwan: When will our dramas stop misrepresenting rape and child abuse?

While highlighting social taboos and evils through local dramas is a bold initiative that our entertainment industry has been taking for around two years now, it doesn’t always hit the mark. At times, our serials normalise things that ought not to be, sometimes in the wake of ratings and sometimes because the makers want to portray situations as close to reality as possible. Recently, the much-hyped drama serial Haiwan, that kicked off the trend of #MyChildMyResponsibility on social media, concluded on a deeply unsatisfactory note. A drama that was meant to give a strong message of protecting children from the predators that ...

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No water, no electricity, no education – When living in rural Sindh is worse than a death sentence

Martin Luther King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”. This is the thought the residents of Tharparkar comfort themselves with every day. They console each other by hoping that after all their hardship will come some ease. Out of a small number of nine countries, Pakistan has succeeded in becoming a nuclear power. Who would have thought in a country with so much power, there would be so little for the common people? It is appalling to even think that the residents of rural Sindh still transport water with the help of donkeys. I often find ...

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The broken and tormented Kinzas and Tayyabas of Pakistan, waiting for a train that never comes

If you live in Pakistan, you must have frequently come across a very young child accompanying an elite family, looking like they don’t belong. What differentiates the child from the ‘elite’ family is the fact that while they dress modestly enough to not look poor and become a source of embarrassment for the family, they are also not dressed extravagantly, so there remains a marked difference highlighting who is the master and who is the servant.  This has become a trend in Pakistan, where you see children accompanying adult individuals and carrying either their bags or their babies for them. Apparently, this shows their ...

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The “Maasi” competition only celebrated the weaknesses of our domestic help by using them as props for a privilege-fest

We had a helper at home who we called maasi (maid). We never thought it was wrong or degrading. That was up until someone called me that word during a fight and I felt deeply wronged. I was 14, easily hurt, and crying about it to someone and they consoled me by saying, “Maa-si: Maa (mother) and si (like). Being a maasi means like a mother. What is there to cry about?” That stopped my tears momentarily and gave me something to think about. Mai. Maasi. Kaam waali. Bhangan. Choori – these aren’t just job titles designated for the lowest and the most disenfranchised women of our country; ...

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She is six and her name is Sarima

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a little princess called Sarima*. But wait, this is not a fairy tale. This is a slap in the face of a society that greatly lacks humanity. In this tale of woe, Sarima is a 6-year-old girl whose body was found in a dirty drain in Karachi’s Korangi Crossing area. She had been raped, mutilated and left for dead. When her lifeless body was located and taken to the Civil Hospital, it was a miracle she was still breathing. No one thought she would make it, but she did. God ...

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A domestic helper is not a slave. A child is not a servant. #JusticeForTayyaba

Exactly one year ago, a man heard a little girl cry out from the cold floor of a washroom in Rawalpindi. She is a 12-year-old domestic worker in Rawalpindi Cantonment. As the man tries to contact the police, he realises there is no proper method to save a child like that from a family that refuses to understand that such treatment towards young children, or any person, is nothing but inhumane. The man who heard this little child’s cry wrote about the incident in a piece published on January 01, 2016, with the hope that by this year, she ...

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Are we selling our children’s youth to factories?

“When my mother died I was very young, And my father sold me while yet my tongue Could scarcely cry ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!” William Blake (The Chimney Sweeper) On Monday the Provincial assembly of Punjab passed the Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns bill. The bill aims to prohibit children younger than 14 years of age from working in brick kilns and penalises violations with both fines and incarceration. Considering the enormity of the child labour problem in Pakistan, any such bill is a welcome development. It is hard to be optimistic however, considering the repeated failure to implement past legislations. These include: -The West Pakistan Shops and ...

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Stop public shaming this woman on Facebook – you don’t even know her story!

After a funny period of memes, a sentimental phase of “Keep Calm” and “Happiness Is” photos, there is a new category of pictures on Facebook: pictures that provoke public-shaming. An image is posted, showing the affluent and poor in a societal setup that does not favour the poor and soon after, it is shared countless times leading to public shaming of the rich. Recently, my friend shared a photo of a woman shopping at a designer outlet with a man towing behind her carrying her shopping bags. The caption of this photo reads: “I was appalled. Is it that difficult to carry your own bags ...

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