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Government Must Take Immediate Steps to Stop Child Labour

Written By David D'Angelo on Saturday, June 13, 2009 | 6/13/2009

Afia is one of the 10-12 million children who are victims of child labour in Pakistan. She was seven years old when she began accompanying her mother to Baji’s house. She is also part of the huge army of child workers in Asia Pacific which is by far the largest in the world and represents 18.8 percent of the 650 million 5-14 year-olds in the region, said a Press Release issued by the Peace group of Journalists today in Muzaffrabad.

Sharing his views on June 12, World Day Against Child Labour, Peace Group of Journalists’s Executive Director Mr Saeed ur Rehman Siddiqui said that “it is imperative that the government steps up efforts to first recognise and then implement in letter and spirit the laws that help regulate, and ban children from working under certain conditions and at a certain age. At the same time the society also needs to be sensitised and made aware that child labour is not an answer to combating poverty.”

Manager Child Labour Peace Group of Journalists Ms Fozia Khawaja said that strict enforcement of laws on child labour and education and healthy environment for children can help us help children out of the vicious cycle of poverty, child labour and poverty.

As per its tradition Peace Group of Journalists observed Child Labour Free Week from June 7-12 to highlight the plight of child labourers and make recommendations to stop the exploitation and violation of child rights in the name of poverty and hardships visited on the parents.

The week was observed in the State of Azad Jammu & Kashmir, with the help Press Clubs working at the district level in all Kashmir. To create awareness on the issue Peace Group of Journalists displayed banners with slogans throughout the Kashmir, underscoring the need to stop children from working and instead urging the people and the government to invest in them and give them their rights to education, healthcare, safety and security and childhood for a better and prosperous Kashmir.

At district level consultations were held with various stakeholders such as the employers, government functionaries concerned, civil society organisations, parents and teachers to help enforce laws so that children are saved from supplementing the family income at such a tender age and losing out on their right to education, healthcare and childhood.

Peace Group of Journalists also prepared a Charter of Demands to bring forth the grave issue of child labour which needs immediate and comprehensive response so that more and more children end up in school and not in the roadside hotels, automobile workshops, as street vendors, rag pickers, beggars, prostitutes and bangle makers.

The Charter of Demands focuses on the implementation of the existing laws such as the Employment of Children’s Act (ECA) 1991, Factories Act, Mines Act and other related laws, implementation of one of the fastest ratified ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour No 182 and raise the age of employment to 18 years as given in the Convention from 14 as given in the ECA-1991. The Charter demands of the government to implement the existing Compulsory Primary Education Ordinances including provincial ones such as Sindh Compulsory Primary Education Ordinance 2001 and enact law on secondary education because school is the best place to be. To expedite the progress regarding National Child Labour Policy 2000 and National Plan of Action for Children 2006 which calls for the elimination of worst forms of child labour and gradually eradicate child labour. To make functional National Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child, this is the main organ for monitoring and reviewing the process under the ECA.

“The deteriorating situation as we see today in Pakistan is a reflection of the poverty of will of the successive governments to work effectively and honestly for the development of social sectors such as education, healthcare, human rights, child rights etc. The deprivation, hunger, illiteracy of the masses, exploitation and abuse of the poor, corruption, poor governance and poor or no implementation of rules and regulations has resulted in the growth of evil such as child labour among many other vices”, said Zulkifal Sarfraz Manager Media And Creative Unit Peace Group of Journalists.

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May Peace Prevail on Earth
May Peace Prevail in Kashmir
good luck
Saeed ur Rehman Siddiqui
President Peace Group of Journalists URI CC
Peace media center/Peace Model School
Near AJK university Cheela Bandi
Muzaffrabad AJK Pakistan
Cell# 00923015107501



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