Parliamentarians, civil society reps ask govt to prioritize child rights


ISLAMABAD, JUNE 12 (DNA) – Speakers of the international webinar pointed out that increasing child labour gets no appropriate attention of the government and development partners having scope and mandate to curb the menace from society.

Deficient and conflicting legislation on child labour and rights is the main hurdle while poor implementation by the local authorities enhances the impact manifolds. Children not only suffer from poverty but physical and mental torture and violence as well.

Decades’ old and inefficient data makes the strategies incompetent and irrelevant.

Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and DTN organized the webinar on the topic ‘covid-19 and Child Labour: the nexus of poverty, population and food security’ on Friday to commemorate the World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL).

Ingrid Christensen, Country Director ILO Pakistan, warned that in the result of covid-19 more than two million more children would be pushed to child labour in Pakistan as the economy collapses.

There is a strong link between child labour and socio-economic conditions. To curb the child labour we need to improve rural economy and working conditions for the daily wagers and other marginalized communities that need long term and sustainable partnerships between the development partners and governments.

She said the child labour survey was started last year in March with Unicef Pakistan taking lead to access the situation on ground, and after the pandemic it might not be completed in time. After the survey we would be able to realize the realities for our future interventions.

She said by 2025 we have to eliminate the child labour that seems to be a dream without efficient partnerships of stakeholders and partners.

We need ample resources and strong will to achieve the targets to contribute to the success of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Senior Programme Officer FAO (HQs) Rome, Ariane Genthon said: We need more data on the involvement of children in harmful tasks in the different sub-sectors of agriculture to help agricultural programmes and stakeholders take action.

The COVID-19 and the locust invasion will have very detrimental effects on farmers, which is likely to exacerbate the number of children in child labour. Agricultural stakeholders, including small-holders, can play a positive role in eliminating child labour in agriculture but we need to involve them.

She said more than 71 per cent child labour is engaged in agriculture where poisonous pesticides are used that directly threatened health and lives of the children.

But unfortunately the increasing poverty and population force the farmers to engage their children in to the agricultural fields.

FAO has launched an awareness campaign in the selected districts of many developing countries to ensure that the children should be kept away from the fields.

They can only be prevented from the fields if engaged in education or the vocational skills after the farmers are subsidized for the inputs to the crops.

Devcom-Pakistan and DTN Director Munir Ahmed said Child labour in Pakistan is touching the extreme point undoubtedly, and what makes it more vulnerable is relying on the three decades old data. Somewhere in 1990, it was estimated that 23 million children are out of school and half of them are vulnerably employed in child labour.

With Pakistan government restricting the interventions of international development partners in the realm of child rights in particular, some genuinely concerned organizations have packed up their offices from Pakistan and have shifted their development funds to some of the less developed African countries where the child labour is on the peak and child rights are undermined.

He said Pakistan’s seriousness on the rights of children could be gauged from another factor that the country’s parliament approved the child rights commission Act only in October 2017, seventy years after the independence of the country, even that was after a long and tiring campaign by the child rights activists.

More heinous was the present government disapproved the hiring of the first chairperson for the commission that further delayed the process for two years.DNA