LAHORE: Civil society organisations (CSOs) have expressed concern over absence of effective social security mechanisms for millions of workers, which has resulted increase of child labour as World Day Against Child Labour was observed on Thursday to highlight the plight of children working under harsh conditions.
Representatives of different CSOs from the platform of Child Rights Movement held a press conference at the Lahore Press Club on Thursday. They said that theme for the yearly day in 2013 was ‘No Child Labour in Domestic Work’ but that the Punjab government did not pay attention to prohibit domestic labour despite over 25 deaths of child domestic workers have been reported.
Child rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik urged the provincial government to include the child domestic labour in the schedule of banned occupations under the Children’s Employment (Amendment) Act, 2011. The prohibition of child domestic labour was also not being addresses comprehensively through the proposed draft of the Punjab Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill, 2013, introduced by the Labour and Human Resource Department. Mubarik requested that the chief minister and labour minister to look into the matter personally.
He said that it was a responsibility of the Punjab government to expand the purview of right to free and compulsory education under Article 25-A of the constitution to child domestic labourers.
He said that it was also a responsibility of the provincial government to come up with the Child Protection Policy without any further delay to set milestones to ensure the protection of children from all kinds of abuses and exploitations.
He further stated that the government might initiate comprehensive social protection schemes and programmes for social and economic empowerment of parents and adults, including the income generation programme for women at the grassroots. This might contribute towards less entry of children to workforce before completion of minimum schooling.
Nazir Ahmad Ghazi said that as per this year’s theme, social protection was a right, which give sound economic social sense to every individual.
Through social protection system, he said, children could access to fundamental rights such as education, healthcare and nutrition.
SPO Punjab Chief Salman Ahmad said that 90 percent of the over 72 million labourers/workers in Punjab did not enjoy social security protection while the remaining 10 percent were victims of poor social security coverage.
He said that extremely poor social security coverage for informal sector workers had made insecure and vulnerable workers and their families, mainly children, who have pushed to work in order to contribute to survival of their families. HomeNet Pakistan Executive Director Ume Laila Azhar said that according to the National Child Labour Survey, 2013, approximately 3.3 million children below 14 years of age – 73 percent of them are boys and 27 percent girls – were working as labourers in Pakistan. Because of this evident lack of political will, the Child Rights Movement demands a ban on child domestic labour below 18 years of age and an end to violent treatment and killings of domestic workers by employers, she added.
South Asia Partnership Pakistan’s Irfan Mufti said that social protection not merely provides cushion to poor families to sustain economic socks, such as loss of lives, employment, injury or disability but also contribute to national economy by maintaining support to families. In addition, he said, it indirectly promotes solidarity and social harmony on the workplace and contributes to overall productivity.
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