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Press Conference on World Day against Child Labor (12th June 2024)

In connection with World Day Against Child Labor 2024, today (12 June) Women Domestic Workers Union-Punjab, Child Rights Movement (CRM) Punjab and WISE jointly organised a press conference at Lahore Press Club. Executive Director WISE, Bushra Khaliq, Coordinator CRM Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, Executive Director DCHD Tanveer Jahan, Child Rights Activist Syed Miqdad Mehdi, and Director Search for Justice Iftikhar Mubarak addressed the Press conference.  Following press release was issued on this occasion;

 

12th June: World Day against Child Labor 2024

LAHORE (PR): Child labor remains a chronic issue in Pakistan, although there have been occasional efforts to address this menace. Pakistan has faced challenges in effectively eliminating child labor due to a variety of socio-economic factors.

 

Addressing on this occasion, Bushra Khaliq, Executive Director, WISE, told the media that WISE has been collecting reported cases of violence against child domestic workers in Punjab. According to statistics collected in last five years, through daily newspapers during the period of (1st January 2019- 31st May 2024) a total 147 cases were reported in province of Punjab. Among these victims 28 girls were died, and 119 were severely injured, she added. These victims were aged between 7-20 years of age. Majority of cases were reported from District Lahore, Faisalabad and Kasur.

 

Nazir Ahmad Ghazi, Coordinator CRM, said these figures underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address and prevent such acts of violence, safeguarding children from harm and ensuring justice for victims. He demanded to ensure full enforcement of the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 to protect the rights of domestic workers and regulate their terms of employment, working conditions, minimum wage of Rs.32,000 and social welfare provisions.

 

Tanveer Jahan, Executive Director DCHD, said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, is a landmark treaty that establishes a comprehensive framework for the protection and promotion of children’s rights. One of its critical areas of focus is the eradication of child labor.

 

Syed Miqdad Mehdi, Child Rights activist, suggested that ending child labor in Pakistan requires the effective implementation and enforcement of laws designed to protect the rights of children and ensure their well-being. While significant strides have been made, more robust legislative measures are crucial to eliminate this pervasive menace. Effective laws to end child labor in Pakistan should include Clear Definitions and Age Limits and Legislation should clearly define what constitutes child labor and establish a minimum age for employment in line with international standards. Laws should prohibit all forms of child labor, especially in hazardous industries, and outline strict penalties for violations to deter employers from engaging in exploitative practices. Under Article 25-A, Compulsory education laws need to be strictly enforced to ensure that children are attending school rather than working. Access to free and quality education is essential to breaking the cycle of child labor.

 

Iftikhar Mubarak, Director Search for Justice, recommended that Effective child protection requires seamless interdepartmental coordination. Various departments, including health, education, social services, and law enforcement, each play a vital role in safeguarding children’s rights and well-being. Coordination among these departments must ensure that efforts to protect children are comprehensive, consistent, and efficient. In essence, interdepartmental coordination is crucial for creating a robust and responsive child protection system that can address the multifaceted needs of children and safeguard their rights effectively.