Shanzey Minhal Mustafa
TRACES of this socially-unacceptable practice takes us back to the 1700s when the industrial revolution began taking flight. Thanks to the system that made poor people work for the rich. Factories were being set up and required huge labour. Hence, division of labor was the only solution to divide tasks so that a group of people became specialized in carrying out certain types of tasks. Trade was promoted which further lead to expansion of trade. This resulted in an increase in productivity, leading towards a greater need for labor placement. That is where the idea of specialization emerged from. The employment of children back then was considered important by the factory managers to train them for work for years to come as it was cheaper.
Today, child labour refers to the employment of children in any form of work that deprives them of their childhood, interfering with their ability to attend school regularly and that it is socially, physically, mentally or morally perilous or harmful. The percentage of child labour is much higher in developing countries. Children are considered to be the future of a nation. They are the ones born for a different time, in a world so beautifully diverse and forever evolving. It is the right of every child that a strong foundation for his future be cemented as early as possible. In this madly entangled world, the innocence and creativity of these little minds should not at all be neglected. It is but, an individual responsibility of the people to make sure if they’re doing their best to secure the futures of their children.
Recently, the Punjab Assembly in Pakistan has passed the Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Bill for children working at brick kilns. Under this bill, none of the brick kiln owner is now allowed to employ, engage or permit a child less than 14 years of age to work at the brick kiln. As per the bill, the term ‘child’ here, refers to a person who has not yet reached the age of 14. The age has been set according to the labor laws regarding the children. Not only this, if a parent or guardian permits the child to work at a kiln, they too will be equally and jointly liable for the offence.
Not only this, every appointment of a worker at a kiln shall be shaped into a written contract in prescribed form. The contract would be signed between the worker and the owner (brick kiln owner) showing all the terms and conditions of employment and engagement. The contract would also include the amount of advance, wage and the payback schedule of the advance. The bill has further set the amount of advance given to a worker at Rs50,000.
There are hundreds of thousands of children working in the auto workshop sector as well. According to Punjab government’s Rana Sanaullah Khan, legislation will soon be done to put an end to child labour at auto workshops as well. Taking the first step was the most important part. Next up, there has to be proper check and balance regarding implementation of the bill and the government assures it will be taken care of.
The effects of this historic bill will be seen once it is actually put to action in its very sense. Brick kiln owners have been taking the lead in promoting the unforgivable ashes of slavery to keep up with their businesses. The bill, if implemented properly, has the potential to set an example for others to follow. All other provinces of Pakistan should soon follow suit and take one step at a time to curb one of the most threatening issues facing the country.
Debate over the issue of child labour has long been there. Legislation too, has always been done by authorities throughout the world. Even so, there is “World Day against Child Labour” marked on the 12th of June. According to the UN, as per facts and figures, the global trend of children working is declining. It is right to say that the underprivileged children deserve quality education and health care facilities as well, but laws must first be welcomed first to achieve the goal of curbing the threats of the dicey existence of child labour.