Govt to give Children Opportunity to realise their potential: Minister

“The ministry is committed to ensure that each child is given the opportunity to realise their potential,” said Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari in a statement on 11th of June 2020.

Every year, the international community commemorates the day on June 12. This year, as the world confronts an unprecedented pandemic, children face an increased risk of child labour, child marriages and other forms of exploitation. The Covid-19 public health emergency has disrupted the right to education for children across the world.

The ministry said in Pakistan, where there are already an estimated 22.8 million children out of school, this is likely to adversely affect learning outcomes and exacerbate existing inequalities in educational attainment such as high female dropout rates. Projections estimate an alarming fivefold increase in drop-out rates due to the crisis.

Child labour causes children physical, psychological, moral and social harm. There are an estimated 152 million children in child labour around the world, 72 million of which are in hazardous work. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are an estimated 8.5 million child workers in Pakistan. Child labour is most rampant in agriculture - about 76 per cent - followed by the service sector 14.6pc and manufacturing 6.7pc. They are often exposed to hazardous substances and poor living conditions.

The human rights ministry observed that in a recent incident in Rawalpindi eight-year-old girl was allegedly killed by her employer for accidentally releasing some expensive parrots from their cage. The minor girl’s case has prompted the Ministry of Human Rights to propose a significant amendment to classify child domestic labour as a ‘hazardous occupation’ under Schedule 1 of the Employment of Children Act 1991.

“MoHR works on reviewing and strengthening laws and institutional mechanisms to protect child rights in Pakistan. Laws at the federal and provincial level set bans on hazardous work for children and minimum age limits for labour. Moreover, Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC); its optional protocols; and ILO conventions related to child labour,” said Dr Mazari. She also urged the general public to report cases on child labour on the ministry’s helpline 1099.

Federal Secretary for Human Rights Rabiya Javeri Agha said the ministry recognises the gravity of the issue of child labour. “It deprives children of their childhood, robs them of their futures and violates their fundamental right to education that is enshrined under Article 25-A of the Constitution. We must continue working steadily, cautiously and collectively towards the elimination of child labour from society while mitigating economic vulnerabilities and considerations.”

She said for the first time in 23 years MoHR in collaboration with Unicef has launched a national Child Labour Survey that is due to complete by December 2020. “This will give us a clearer map of the situation and help guide interventions to effectively tackle the issue and protect the rights of children in Pakistan,” Ms Agha said.


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