Child Labor a social menace and Labor Laws in Pakistan:
CSS Pakistan Affairs
Gharidah Farooqi, the famous Senior Anchor Person at Express News has made headlines today for all the wrong reasons. She has been accused of illegally detaining a teenaged girl whom she had employed as a maid/servant at her residence in Bahria Town, Lahore.
According to reports, a petition has been filed by one, Muhammad Munir in Lahore under section 491 of CR.PC for the recovery of his daughter Sonia, who was working at Ms. Gharidah’s residence.
Social media is buzzing with audio recording purportedly between one of the relatives of Sonia and Ms. Ghareeda Farooqi in which the latter is using foul language while responding to the repeated pleas of the former to let Sonia meet her parents. Gharidah is also heard demanding Rs. 40,000 from the other woman on the phone in exchange for letting the girl leave her house. She also hurled threats on the woman and reminded her of how powerful she is.
Global Village Space News Desk made repeated efforts to contact Ms. Gharidha to take her view on these allegations but to no avail.
Child labor: A deep rooted menace in our society
Ms. Gharida seems to be suffering from same Pakistani malaise which convinces people that they are above the law. Child labor is an unfortunate reality in Pakistan. Many organizations have estimated that there could be anywhere from 8 to 19 million child laborers in the country. The age of a child is defined from age five to age fourteen, of which there are 40 million in Pakistan, according to a survey last year by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, funded by International Labor Organization’s IPEC (International Programmed on the Elimination of Child Labor).
This means that nearly half of all children are working. This is unacceptable given that the enunciated principle in Pakistan is to provide free education and rid the country of illiteracy. In many cases, the parents of child laborers cannot afford an education for their children or they believe that education does not lead to marketable skills. However, statistics show that most child laborers go on to have children that do not attend school and the cycle of poverty continues.
Labor laws in Pakistan
The Employment of Children Act 1991 defines “child” as a person below 14 years of age and an “adolescent” as a person below 18 years of age (the definitions of child and adolescent in this act override these definitions in other labor laws). The Constitution of Pakistan also regards the minimum age as 14 years. However, the 18th amendment has actually raised the minimum age up to 16 years without amending the labor laws, so contradiction continues. Article 25(A) of the Constitution says that the state now has to provide compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen years, which means that, a child can’t be allowed to work before 16 years of age.
The minimum age for admission to work is set under the Mines Act 1923 (15 years), Factories Act 1934 as well as its provincial variants enacted after devolution (14 years), Shops & Establishments Ordinance 1969 and its provincial variants enacted in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (14 years) and Road Transport Workers Ordinance 1961 (18 years).
The minimum age for starting work is 14 years under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2015 and Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017.
The minimum age for admission to work is raised to 15 years under Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Ordinance 2016. The minimum age for admission to work is also set as 14 years in draft legislation by Baluchistan.
The minimum age for admission to work is raised to 15 years in the draft legislation of Islamabad Capital Territory (a private member bill submitted in the Senate of Pakistan, the upper house of the Parliament).
Punishment for employing a child labor
In accordance with section 14 of the Employment of Children Act, whosoever employs any child or permits any child to work in occupations and processes mentioned above, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to PKR20, 000 or with both. If a person, who was already convicted under the law, commits the same offense again, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to two years.
Ms. Gharidah may find this as a huge setback in her career. The audience which she receives on her show may be compelled to questions all her utterances; if the audio proves to be correct, this may be her swansong.
Courtesy: Global Village Space