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Examining Child Labor: Pakistan’s Underlying Issues

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The issue of child labor in Pakistan is a grave and intricate problem, profoundly affecting the well-being and development of millions of children within the country. Primarily driven by poverty, child labor compels children to work in order to supplement family income and fulfill basic needs. Contributing factors encompass limited access to quality education, entrenched social norms, weak law enforcement, and a demand for inexpensive labor across various sectors.

Children in Pakistan engage in diverse forms of work, some of which constitute the worst manifestations of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation, forced domestic labor, bonded labor, and hazardous work. Key sectors where child labor persists encompass agriculture, brick kilns, carpet weaving, mining, glass bangle production, surgical instrument manufacturing, leather tanning, domestic service, street vending, begging, and others.

Child labor exerts detrimental effects on children’s physical, mental, moral, and social development. It strips them of their entitlement to education, health, protection, and participation, exposing them to multifarious risks such as abuse, exploitation, violence, injuries, illnesses, and trafficking. Moreover, it perpetuates the cycle of poverty and societal inequality.

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While the government of Pakistan has taken certain measures to address child labor, such as ratifying ILO core conventions (No. 138 and No. 182), enacting laws and policies, establishing monitoring institutions, and implementing social protection programs, these efforts have proven inadequate in addressing the problem’s root causes and magnitude. Obstacles include insufficient political commitment, inadequate resources, poor coordination, corruption, lack of reliable data, and limited public awareness.

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These facets of the child labor issue in Pakistan necessitate thorough examination. It is imperative for governmental and societal organizations to collaborate and prioritize the welfare of children. Effective implementation of legislation and provision of economic support to children and their families are fundamental requirements. Functional literacy can play a pivotal role in this context. Therefore, collective efforts by the state and society are imperative to ensure a better future for the children of Pakistan.

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