Stories about child labour

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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My life as “chota”

“Chotay! Sab kaam chhor, sahab ke liye chai la!” (Junior! Leave everything else, bring tea for sir) “Chotay! Ustad ki bike pe kapra maar jaldi!” (Junior! Quickly clean your master’s bike) “Chotay! Abay chotay! Kisi kaam ka nahi hai tu, nikammay!” (Junior! You are good for nothing, you nincompoop!) My life revolves around these few phrases. Phrase that pierce through my 11-year-old heart. Did I choose this life? Did I wish to be in this position, where I am often looked at with sympathetic eyes and silent tongues? No. But I am thankful to God for giving me this life. This auto-mechanic garage is my home away from home. My safe ...

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Do you know your Qaaf se Qanoon?

Good things should be appreciated and promoted, a recent example would be Qaaf se Qanoon, a radio-show, launched on ZAB FM 106.6.What this show seeks to do is spread legal literacy amongst the masses. The show is being aired in Karachi every Monday, from 6pm to 7pm. Those living in other cities can listen to the show online on either ZAB FM’s website or on Soundcloud. Qaaf se Qanoon is part of the ‘SZABIST Legal and Research Clinic’; project initiated by Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology’s (SZABIST) faculty, current students and alumni. The main purpose of this clinic is to advocate ...

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He was 12-years-old and wanted to liberate slaves in Pakistan. He is dead now

On April 16, 1995, a 12-year-old boy named Iqbal Masih was shot and killed while he was riding his bicycle with his friends in Muritke, near Lahore. He was punished for raising his voice against child labour. While he was in the US, he was asked why he wanted to return to Pakistan when he knew of the danger to his life. To that, he courageously responded saying his mission was more important than his life. And it was with his life that he paid the price for standing up for his beliefs. He was just 12-years-old. Masih said, “I want to do what Abraham Lincoln did.” He wanted to ...

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Pakistan’s children are unsheltered, uneducated and uncared for

The Pakistani state treats its children with criminal neglect despite many laws and policies to protect them. The Constitution guarantees children between the ages of five and 16 the right to compulsory education; yet over six million children are out of school, and others in government and private schools receive a compromised education with little practical relevance to their lives. Pakistani labour laws, although ambivalent on what constitutes juvenility, are consistent on the fact that children should not work in hazardous occupations or long hours or at all if they are under the age of 12. Yet, children work long hours and in ...

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We invited our maid’s family for a Diwali dinner and this is what we learnt

Inspired by her friends, my mother started a new tradition in our home last night – she invited the family of our maid, Madina to come to our home for dinner. Earlier, she had sent dad and me to buy all the groceries to prepare some special food for our guests. We all ate together and had a lovely conversation as well. This is the first time we have ever done anything like this in our family. It felt surreal to see Madina’s whole family sitting on our couch and eating with us on our dining table. This was especially significant for ...

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From chauffeurs to tea-boys, their ladder of opportunity is your legacy

Crisp white shirts, shiny black trousers, a polished golden eagle on the shoulder – security guards can be seen scattered all across Dubai. Around posh residences, malls, and office buildings, these young South Asian men, in a city as secure as Dubai, are invariably left roaming around at night with little to do. Rubbing my eyes as I reach work on a Sunday morning, I find one such man sitting behind the large reception desk. His head sways in a robotic manner as he stares into his lap, his lips moving soundlessly. In his lap is a creased English newspaper, its stains testament to ...

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Maryam knew she was born poor and meant to be treated harshly

Three months ago, an 11-year-old Maryam sat in my friend’s drawing room, weeping incessantly. My friend and I asked her if there was anything we could do for her, we inquired if she wanted to talk to her mother. All we got in return were confused, big black eyes staring right back at us. Maryam curled herself into a tiny ball and continued sobbing. I felt immensely grieved because the little girl had made a long arduous journey from her village to this new house alone. My friend’s mother had asked a former driver to look for a female domestic helper; one ...

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Is the Human Trafficking Ordinance just another failed statute in Pakistan?

The situation of human rights in Pakistan as recorded by international rights organisations, bodies and agencies has always been grave and continues to exacerbate. In similar news, Pakistan is on the Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Person report for a second consecutive year. The countries whose governments fail to comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards are placed on a tier, which is a clear indicator that there is apparently no political will to curb the menace of human trafficking. According to International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) trafficking records, the profits from forced labour are estimated to be in the ...

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Two years of civil war wiped out 15 years of education progress in Syria

For the first time, we have the official numbers that show the devastating consequences of the civil war in Syria on education. When the conflict first erupted in 2011, nearly every child was enrolled in primary school across the country. Within two years, nearly two million children and young adolescents were out of school. Enrolment rates have plummeted, leaving one in three children and more than two out of five adolescents excluded from education, according to the new data from UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). It took two years to erase all of the educational gains made in Syria since the start of the century; ...

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