Child labor refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood that is intellectually, physically, socially or morally risky and destructive.
This practice is regarded to be a violation of human rights. . Many nations have regulations that safeguard children from being exploited through child labor. However, despite these restrictions, child labor remains a common problem, particularly in poor nations. It is typically seen in the informal sector, such as in agriculture, and in small-scale enterprises such as brickmaking, carpentry, and garment making. Children may also be compelled to work as domestic slaves or in the sex trade. It is vital to address the core causes of child labor, such as poverty and lack of access to school, in order to successfully solve this issue. It is crucial to highlight that some children may be compelled to labor for their family, rather than being paid by an employer, and may not have the same safeguards as children who are properly employed.
Some Example of Child Labor:
- Children working on tobacco farms, exposed to pesticides and other harmful chemicals
- Children working in mines, exposed to dangerous working conditions
- Children working in factories, performing tasks that are dangerous or unhealthy
- Children working in the informal sector, such as in the production of bricks or carpets, often working long hours for little pay
- Children working as domestic servants, often subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse
- Children working in the sex trade, often subjected to sexual exploitation and violence
- Children forced to beg or engage in other forms of street work, such as selling small items or shining shoes
- Children working in many illegal that is very harmful for our society.
Child labor Statistics
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), there were about 152 million children aged 5-17 years old engaged in child labor in 2020. This represents about one in ten children globally. The majority of child laborers (72%) work in the agricultural sector, while others work in the service sector (18%) or the industrial sector (10%).
Child labor is more prevalent in developing countries, with the highest number of child laborers found in Africa and Asia. However, child labor is also a problem in developed countries. For example, the ILO estimates that about 868,000 children in the United States were engaged in child labor in 2020.
UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, works to eliminate child labor and protect the rights of children. UNICEF and its partners use a variety of strategies to address child labor, including supporting education, promoting the rights of children and working with communities to find alternative sources of income.
Causes of child Labor
There are many factors that contribute to the prevalence of child labor. Here are some of the main causes:
- Poverty: One of the main drivers of child labor is poverty. When families are suffering from poverty then they may see no other option than that to send their children to work in order to contribute to the family income.
- Lack of education: In many parts of the world, children do not have access to quality education. This may be due to a lack of schools, or to the fact that schools are too expensive. As a result children may see work as their only option.
- Culture and tradition: In some societies, it is traditional for children to work and contribute to the family income. This may be seen as a normal part of growing up and may not be viewed as a form of exploitation.
- Weak laws and enforcement: In some countries, laws that are meant to protect children from exploitation are not enforced, or are not strong enough. As a result, children may be able to work in hazardous conditions without legal repercussions.
- Lack of alternative opportunities: In some cases, children may not have access to other opportunities, such as education or vocational training. As a result, they may see work as their only option.
- Conflict and displacement: Children may be forced to work as a result of conflict or displacement. For example, children who are refugees or who are living in war-affected areas may be more vulnerable to exploitation and may be forced to work in order to survive.
- Disasters and diseases: may also to provide that environment in which the ratio of child labor increased.
Laws and Acts to Control Child Labor:
There are various national and international laws and acts that aim to protect children from exploitation and harmful child labor. Here are a few examples:
- International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 138: This convention which was adopted in 1973, sets the minimum age for admission to employment at 15 years. It also calls for the prohibition of the worst forms of child labor, defined as work that is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children.
- ILO Convention No. 182: This convention, which was adopted in 1999, provides for the immediate and effective elimination of the worst forms of child labor. It also calls for the prohibition of the use of children in armed conflict.
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): The CRC, which was adopted in 1989, is a human rights treaty that sets out the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of children. It calls for the protection of children from economic exploitation and hazardous work, and for the provision of free and compulsory primary education for all children.
In Pakistan, child labor is regulated by several laws and acts, including:
The Employment of Children Act, 1991: This act prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any factory, mine, or hazardous occupation. It also sets limits on the working hours and conditions of children between the ages of 14 and 18.
The Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act, 1992: This act prohibits the practice of bonded labor, in which people are forced to work in order to pay off a debt or other obligation. This practice is often used to exploit children and can lead to harmful forms of child labor.
The Child Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016: This act replaces the Employment of Children Act, 1991, and prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any occupation or process. It also sets limits on the working hours and conditions of children between the ages of 14 and 18.
The Constitution of Pakistan: The Constitution of Pakistan also contains provisions that protect the rights of children and prohibit child labor.
For example, Article 25A of the Constitution states that the state shall provide free and compulsory education to children aged 5-16 years.
Increasing access to education: Education is one of the most effective ways to prevent child labor. It provides children with the knowledge, skills, and values they need to participate fully in their communities and contribute to their own and their countries’ development.
Strengthening labor laws and enforcement: Strong and enforced labor laws can help protect children from being exploited and ensure that they are able to attend school instead of working.
Increasing economic opportunities: Providing families with economic opportunities and alternatives to child labor can help reduce the need for children to work.
Raising awareness: Increasing awareness about the harmful effects of child labor and the importance of education can help change social and cultural norms that allow it to continue.