Dreaming of a World without Child Labor

Dreaming of a World without Child Labor
Photo Source: Image by Flickr


Hasom Jang

Pakistan Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

In a recent distressing incident at the residence of Civil Judge Asim Hafeez in Islamabad, Rizwana, a domestic helper, suffered severe injuries allegedly caused by the judge's wife.[1] Currently in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit of Lahore General Hospital, Rizwana's ordeal has brought renewed attention to the pervasive issue of child labor in Pakistan.[1]

However, the removal of the civil judge, who was subsequently appointed as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) by the Lahore High Court Chief Justice, suggests an escape from consequences, highlighting systemic challenges.[2] The subsequent release of the judge's wife on bail adds another layer to these challenges, underscoring the urgent need for systemic reform to ensure fair treatment for all.

Children are not just the future; they constitute a pivotal facet of the present.[3] Recognizing this, the Pakistani government actively endeavors to safeguard children's rights, a commitment emphasized during World Children's Day on November 20. President Dr Arif Alvi acknowledges the vulnerability of Pakistani children, addressing concerns from malnutrition to child labor.[4]

A recent 2022 International Labor Organization(ILO) study reveals that one in four Pakistani households employs a child in domestic work, predominantly girls aged 10 to 14.[5] While existing laws aim to curb child labor, there is a critical need for comprehensive legislation specifically criminalizing child domestic labor.[5]

Despite Pakistan's United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child(UNCRC) signatory status, incongruities in domestic laws persist, causing ambiguity in defining and protecting children's rights.[5] Iqbal Detho, Chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission(SHRC), acknowledges legal inadequacies, emphasizing the imperative for comprehensive legislation addressing child trafficking and abuse.[6]

Lawyer Rida Tahira advocates for harmonizing federal and provincial regulations with UNCRC's final observations, aligning the definition of children as individuals under 18, and elevating the mandatory age for employment in each province.[3] Such measures are vital for ensuring the well-being of Pakistan's children, transcending mere rhetoric.[3]

Effectively combating this deeply rooted issue necessitates a paradigm shift in societal attitudes toward child labor.[7] Families must recognize it as an affront to the rights of the most vulnerable.[7]

Sources and further readings:

[1] ‘Rizwana Torture Case: IHC Accepts Plea Seeking Removal of Accused’s Judge Spouse | Pakistan Today’ <https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/08/23/rizwana-torture-case-ihc-accepts-plea-seeking-removal-of-accuseds-judge-spouse/> accessed 21 November 2023

[2] ‘Rizwana Blames Judge’s Wife for Subjecting Her to Severe Torture on Daily Basis | Pakistan Today’ <https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/08/18/rizwana-blames-judges-wife-for-subjecting-her-to-severe-torture-on-daily-basis/> accessed 21 November 2023

[3] ‘For Every Child, Every Right’ <https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1130593-for-every-child-every-right> accessed 21 November 2023

[4]‘Alvi for Constructive Role to Improve Children’s Lives’ <https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1130968-alvi-for-constructive-role-to-improve-children-s-lives> accessed 21 November 2023

[5]‘Silent Screams’ <https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/1130595-silent-screams> accessed 21 November 2023

[6]‘Call for Joint Efforts against Child Trafficking, Abuses - Newspaper - DAWN.COM’ <https://www.dawn.com/news/1779188> accessed 21 November 2023

[7]Nizamani S, ‘Young Workers’ (DAWN.COM, 07:28:09+05:00) <https://www.dawn.com/news/1770586> accessed 21 November 2023

by ILO Asia-Pacific, Image by Flickr