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A report on

CHILD LABOR IN PAKISTAN

Prepared for

By
16th August, 2015

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS..........................................................................................................iv
Executive Summary.........................................................................................................................v
1.

2.

INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................................1
1.1.

Purpose..............................................................................................................................1

1.2.

Problem.............................................................................................................................1

1.3.

Scope.................................................................................................................................1

Background..............................................................................................................................2
2.1.

Child Labor in Pakistan.....................................................................................................2

2.2 Pervasiveness and Sectorial Distribution of Child Labor......................................................4

3.

2.3.

Reasons and Causes of Child Labor in Pakistan...............................................................5

2.4.

Legislative Framework in Pakistan Regarding Child Labor.............................................6

2.5.

Initiatives to Curtail Child Labor......................................................................................9

2.5.

Initiatives by non-government institutions.......................................................................9

2.6.

Child Domestics Labor...................................................................................................10

Conclusion and Recommendations........................................................................................12


3.1. Conclusion..........................................................................................................................12
3.2. Recommendations...............................................................................................................13

4.

REFERENCES.......................................................................................................................14

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
TABLES
Table 1: Statistics on Childrens Work and Education.....................................................................4
Table 2: Ratification on International Conventions.........................................................................6
Table 3: Laws related to Child Labor in Pakistan............................................................................8
Table 4: Agencies for Monitoring Child Labor...............................................................................9

FIGURE

Figure 1: Sector Wise Division of Child Labor, Ages 10-14 5

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Child Labor needs immediate attention, both at national and provincial level. The actions taken
by the government, if any, are not sufficient enough to curtail it and it puts the future of millions
of children in jeopardy.
We recommend immediate action and urge the relevant authorities to take necessary measure
such as,

Appoint Child Labor Inspectors


Ratify all the international conventions
Conduct a child labor survey
Address the issue of bonded labor

Furthermore, we also find out,

The international laws are not followed in Pakistan


Legislations, if any, are not being strictly imposed
There is little, or no awareness among people regarding child labor, especially in rural
areas.

Additionally, the main reasons behind child labor and bonded labor are,

Poverty
Lack of education
No concrete legislations
No regulation of the informal sectors in Pakistan

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1.

PURPOSE:

Child labor remains among the critical issues in the developing countries where millions
of children are either forced or they unwillingly have to work, under such circumstances
which are not safe and results in the deterioration of their mental and physical health.
Pakistan is also among those countries. (Mansuri, 2006)

The purpose of this report is to bring into light the crucial issue of child labor in Pakistan,
its reasons, the factors that lead to this and what is being done to overcome this issue,
both by the government, and other bodies. This report looks into the statistical numbers
and figures as well regarding labor force in Pakistan.

1.2.

PROBLEM:

Pakistan is a developing country and still the people of Pakistan are deprived of some of
their very basic rights. One of the fundamental right of a child is to get education- so that
he can safeguard his future and avoid economic exploitation. But, unfortunately, since
poverty prevails in Pakistan, there are many people who cannot even feed their family,
which results in child labor. The report focuses on the problem of child labor in Pakistan
and after thoroughly analyzing this issue, provide some recommendations in order to
overcome this problem.

1.3.

SCOPE:

This study addresses the issue of child labor, its situation in Pakistan and statistics, looks
into its reasons, the factors behind it, the laws that provide safeguard from this, why they
are not able to actually provide safeguard, and lastly, what can be done in order to
eliminate this cancer from our society.
2. BACKGROUND

There are various manifestations in which child labor has thrived in Pakistan. But first of
all, we need to understand the term completely. As per International Labor Organization
(ILO) and UNICEF, child labor and child work are two different terminologies.
If a child is involved in something which is not affecting his educational activities,
personal development, health and mental capabilities, then such work cannot be classified
as child labor, rather its child work which is in fact quite good for the personal
development and learning of the child (Willis, 2012). Take for example, taking part into
family business, working after school hours or during school holidays etc. Such work is
not harmful, rather it provides them with skills, using which they can be productive
members of the society.
According to ILO, such work is classified as child labor which robs them of their
childhood, hurts their dignity and becomes a hurdle in their mental, physical and moral
development, and above all, impedes their education. Due to such work, either they will
have to leave the school permanently, or attend school with heavy work load, thus
resulting in continuous deterioration of their educational development (Basu, 1999)
. Thus, ILO differentiates between child labor and child work on the basis of age of the
child, type and hours of work performed and working condition.
As per UNICEF, child labor is when it exceeds a specific number of hours, depending on
the age of the child, and the type of the work, and working conditions.

2.1.

CHILD LABOR IN PAKISTAN

Globally, a lot of work has been done regarding the elimination of child labor. In
September 2013, ILO released figures which highlighted that the number of children
involved in economic activities had fallen to 168 Million, from 215 Million in 2000. This
is no doubt a significant decrease, but the alarming thing is the fact that around 85
Million of the children are tangled in the worst forms of child labor. In contrast, Pakistan
was ranked 6th among the 10 worst countries for child labor by a risk analysis firm,
Maplecroft for the year of 2014. The report further suggested that child labor was as
common in developing countries as in underdeveloped ones. When a country is in
developing stage, it requires man power for its expanding economic activities and child
labor provides a cheap labor.
In Pakistan, around 80 to 91% of the formal reported economy constitutes of informal
sectors. Such sectors are not regulated and monitored by the government, thus, they
engage underage workers as a source of cheap labor. This is a common routine in
informal sector and they exploit the fact that most of the people are too poor to even
afford food. Sometimes, the children start working because their parents are working in
the same establishment.
According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey 2012-2013(latest one),
almost 4.4% of the children from the age group of 10-15 years are part of our active labor
force, which is alarming cause the number has actually increased from 4.29% in 20102011. But the ugly truth is, this is in no way the real number of child labor in Pakistan, as
this survey does not include the children of age below 10. Many researchers have proved
that there are huge unaccounted for percentage of children working mostly in the
informal sectors. There has been only one survey to enumerate the pervasiveness of child
labor in Pakistan, and that too in 1996. It was planned to conduct a survey again in 2013,
but it never happened.
Since there are no national surveys available on the number of children falling a victim to
child labor, we have to rely on international organizations or NGOs. As per ILO, more
than 12 Million children laborers were in Pakistan in 2012. UNICEF reports this number
as 10 Million, and as per Child Rights Movement (CRM), more than 9.86 Million
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children of ages between 10 and 19 were a part of active labor force; 2.58 Million of
these were between 10 and 14, and unfortunately, thousands of them were below the age
of 10.

2.2 PERVASIVENESS AND SECTORIAL DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD LABOR


As Pakistan has an agriculture based economy, and most of the people are living in rural
areas, the majority of Pakistans child labor is in agriculture sector, and secondly in
bonded labor.
Figure 1 borrows data from the governments 2012-2013 survey of the National Labor
Force indicating the percentage of children of age 10-14 employed in different sectors.
Whereas, Table 1 shows the statistics regarding the numbers of children working as
compared to number of children going to school and those who are combining these two.

Children
Age
Working
10-14 years
Attending School
5-14 years
Combining work and school
10-14 years
Primary Completion rate
Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics 2012, LFS Survey 2010-2011.

Percentage
13.0
72.3
1.6
71.9

Table 1: Statistics on Childrens Work and Education

Sector wise division of Child Labor

15%
9%

76%

Agriculture

Industry

Services

Figure 1: Sector Wise Division of Child Labor, Ages 10-14.

Another worth mentioning area in this regard is the employment of young children,
especially girls as domestic servants, who are quite frequently subjected to extreme abuse
as well.

2.3.

REASONS AND CAUSES OF CHILD LABOR IN PAKISTAN

Child labor is not an isolated phenomena. It is the consequence of several socio-economic


factors (Silvers, 1996). Majorly, it has its roots in poverty, lack of opportunities, lack of
education and awareness, unemployment, uneven distribution of wealth and resources
and plethora of other factors. But personally, I am of the view that poverty is the root
cause of this cancer in our society. In order to increase the family income, parents are
forced to send their little children to work, and sometimes, when they have to take debt
from the masters in order to just stay alive, it results in bonded labor of their children. As
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per UNDP, 65.5% of people are earning below $2 a day, and as per Asian Development
Bank (ADB), 47 Million people are living below the line of poverty. What else can be
expected under such circumstances?

2.4.

LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK IN PAKISTAN REGARDING CHILD


LABOR

Pakistan has endorsed most of the important international resolutions on child labor.
Table 2 provides shows the details:

Source: US Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs


Table 2: Ratification on International Conventions
Before talking about the laws that addresses child labor, first we need to look at the
constitutional provisions addressing child labor:
Article 3: the state shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the
gradual fulfillment of fundamental principle, from each according to his ability and to
each according to his work.
Article 11(3): No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine
or any other hazardous employment.
Article 25(A): The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of
the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as determined by law.

Article 37(e): The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of
work, ensuring that women and children are not employed in vacations unsuited to their
age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.
Source: Constitution of Pakistan
Besides these, following acts and rules deals exclusively with child labor:
1. Employment of Children Act 1991
2. Employment of Children Rule 1995
In addition to these two, there are few other laws who address child labor, like:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Mines Act, 1923


The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933
The Factories Act, 1934
The Road Transport Workers Ordinance, 1961
Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969
Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 2001

A summarized form of the laws relating to child labor are shown in Table 3:

Standard

Yes/No

Age

Related Law

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Employment of

Age Restriction

No

Age Restriction for

Yes

Hazardous Work
List of Hazardous

Yes

Children Act 1991


SAME

Occupations
Ban on Forced

Yes

Bonded Labor

Labor

System Abolition
Act, Constitution of

Ban on Child

Yes

Pakistan
Penal Code of

Trafficking
Ban on Sexual

Yes

Pakistan
Penal Code of

Exploitation of
Children
Ban on using

Pakistan
NO

Children for Illicit


Activities
Minimum age for

Yes

18

NSO 1970

Miltary
Mandatory

Yes

16

Right to Free

Education Age
Free Public

Yes

16

Education Act
SAME

Voluntary service in

Education
Source: US Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs report on
Findings On The Worst Forms Of Child Labor, 2013
Table 3: Laws related to Child Labor in Pakistan

2.5.

INITIATIVES TO CURTAIL CHILD LABOR

The government of Pakistan has taken a number of steps and established many laws and
regulations which directly or indirectly control and effects child labor. Some of the steps
taken by the government includes:
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1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Minimum Wage Policy


Child Labor Inspectors (CLIs)
Legal Aid Support Units for Bonded Labors
Child Labor Free Model Districts
The Child Support Program (CSP) and National Centre for The Rehabilitation of
Child Laborers (NCRCLs) supported by Pakistan Bait ul Maal.

The government has introduced institutional mechanisms in order to enforce laws and
regulations regarding Child Labor.

Agency
Provincial Labor Inspectors

Role
Inspect industrial areas and monitor them.
Identify violations, enforce both national
and provincial laws, and take legal actions
if necessary.
Enforce BLSA,
Keep a check on human trafficking
Investigate cases of Bonded Labors, enforce

District Vigilance Committees


Anti-Trafficking unit of FIA
Police

BLSA
Table 4: Agencies for Monitoring Child Labor

2.5.

INITIATIVES BY NON-GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS

There are many national and international organizations working in Pakistan for the
elimination of child labor and bonded labor. ILO has set up its office in Islamabad,
SPARC is actively participating in the eradication of this evil. There are many social
programs which are working independently, and with the help of government as well, for
example, Child Camel Jockey Rehabilitation Centre, Combating Abusive Child Labor
Project, Strengthening Law Enforcement Responses and Actions Against Internal
Trafficking and Bonded Labor etc.
Furthermore, provincial governments are also funding different programs which is
actually a very good sign.
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2.6.

CHILD DOMESTICS LABOR

There has been an ever increasing socio-economic gap in Pakistan, which has also
burdened the young generation. There are many poor people in villages who are unable to
meet the basic necessities of life and are then forced to send their young children to cities
to work. Most of them are working as domestic servants at houses of elite or middle
class. In fact, there are now agencies to whom you may contact and they will provide you
with domestic servants by charging you a nominal fee. It has become a culture to keep
young children as workers and poor parents consider this a chance to earn money for the
family. An ILO report estimates that nearly 15.5 Million children are working as
domestic workers, most of whom are girls.
In Pakistan, it has become a culturally accepted norm and this is not even considered
something wrong. It exposes children to mistreatment, sexual abuse and harmful
environments. It deprives them of their childhood and their basic right of education. As
per an estimation by The Institute of Social Justice, there were 264,000 child domestic
labor (CDL) in Pakistan in 2013. These children are employed without any legal or
formal contracts, thus, their employers usually exploit them without the fear of any legal
repercussions. The children have to live in the houses of their employers and are totally
on their mercy. They are often not paid their salaries and not even allowed to meet their
family.
If we talk about statistics, alone in 2013, 21 cases of torture were reported. Please note,
this number is only for the cases that were reported, otherwise the real numbers would be
in thousands. Eight of those 21 children died. But there was no law to protect them or to
provide them safeguard.
In order to protect the rights of the domestic workers, a bill was passed in the senate in
2013, which was called as the Domestic Workers (Employment Rights) Act 2013.
Although, it was a very good initiative, but it fell a victim to typical government
proceedings as well. This bill was supposed to be passed by senate and then applied in
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ICT, after which provinces were supposed to apply this as well. This bill made it
compulsory for the domestic workers to enter into a written agreement which would help
in safeguarding their rights. It provided many other clauses to protect the rights of CDL.
However, this bill failed to specify the penalties regarding any violations. Furthermore,
this bill is still pending and moreover, even if it is passed, it would be applicable in ICT
only. Due to 18th amendment, the provinces will have to approve it separately.

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3. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

3.1. CONCLUSION
We have failed to see any major developments by the government that could contribute to
curbing child labor in Pakistan. We do not even have the correct number of children
engulfed by child labor, as the survey which was scheduled to be conducted in 2013 has
not been conducted yet. This is a disaster in a way that the policy makers are unable to
gauge the exact magnitude of child labor. The data that is available is either provided by
international organizations or just an estimation. Moreover, the non-availability of
provincially disaggregated data is problematic, especially after 18th Amendment where
the provinces are empowered to construct their own laws against child labor.
Pakistan has not signed or implemented several of the international conventions, like ILO
Domestic Worker Convention. This particular convention is need of the hour, as in
previous few years we have seen a lot of cases of domestic violence by elite or middle
class.
Although the provinces are taking actions on their own, they need to expedite things.
Punjab government has recently taken a very good initiative where The Punjab
Restriction of Employment of Children Act 2015 is all set to be passed. Rest of the
provinces need to take some steps as well. Rural areas need special attention where
bonded labor takes place and poverty prevails. Furthermore, top down efforts by the state
should be bolstered with bottom up deployment campaigns to inform people of the
negative impacts of child labor and the magnitude of its pervasiveness in Pakistan.

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3.2. RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Steps should be taken on provincial level to expedite legislative measures
regarding child labor.
2. Pakistan should sign and ratify all the international conventions and
agreements regarding child labor, specifically, the ILO Domestic Workers
Convention.
3. Provincial governments should hire specialized child labor inspectors to
monitor any violations. The inspectors should be properly trained and should
know the necessary legal provisions.
4. Any new regulation should be in accordance with ILO conventions ratified by
government.
5. Informal sector should be properly monitored and regulated, as this is the
sector which employees the largest number of child labor.
6. Relief camps for bonded labors should be set up and funded by the
government. Moreover, basic comforts of life should be made available.
7. Immediately conduct a survey for child labor to realize the true picture of the
disaster.
8. There should be proper coordination between the provincial and national
government regarding the steps taken to eradicate child labor.
9. Increase the size and scope of the currently ongoing government programs.
10. Raise awareness regarding child labor in every area of Pakistan, especially
rural areas.
11. Special emphasize should be given to education sector and it should be made
sure that every child gets education.

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4. REFERENCES
Basu, K. (1999). Child labor: cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on international
labor standards. Journal of Economic literature, 1083-1119.
Child Labour and Pakistan. (n.d.). Retrieved August 15, 2015.
Mansuri, G. (2006). Migration, school attainment, and child labor: evidence from rural
Pakistan. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (3945).
Maternal and child health : Guidelines / Afghan Refugee Health Programme Pakistan.
(n.d.).
Pakistan: A stepchild of the west. (n.d.). The Round Table, 395-398.
Silvers, J. (1996). Child labor in Pakistan. The Atlantic Monthly, 17(2).
Willis, L. (2012). Child labor. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

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