KARACHI (ENN) In a press release, the Hari Welfare Association regretted that because of the non-implementation of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013, the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 2015, the Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017, The Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011, and Sindh Tenancy Act, 1950, the children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor with indecent and inhuman living and working conditions. The HWA said that in Sindh, 6.4 million children were out of school, and the vast majority are engaged in child labor.
The HWA estimates that there are about 1.7 million bonded laborers in Sindh; of these, over 7 lac children are bonded laborers working under indecent and inhuman working and living conditions imposed by their landlords in the agriculture sector. According to the data collected by the HWA, from 2013 to 2020, on the orders of courts in Sindh, 3030 children, including a few weeks old minors, were released along with their families from the custody of landlords in the agriculture sector. In 2020, 915 children were released.
Table: Bonded laborer children released in the agriculture sector in Sindh from 2013 to 2020
Source: Data gathered by the Hari Welfare Association
Besides the agriculture sector, children under 15 years of age are exploited, abused, and tortured in bangle, brick kiln, fisheries, auto workshops, cotton picking, and chili picking sectors/activities in the province and labor inspectors, social welfare officers, and child protection officers do not reach and rescue them. These children often work as helping hands to their adult family members and are not paid for their labor. However, if they are provided wages, these are extremely low. The HWA said that increasing child labor is not the outcome of poverty. However, these children cause the vicious cycle of poverty, and their labor also reinforces discrimination and social inequality.
The HWA also regrets that the COVID-19 pandemic has also added more to the miseries of children and their families. Because of the non-availability of work for adults, inflation, and low-paid work, low-income families have increasingly pushed their children to join hazardous labor. According to the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, it is a crime that if a child below 16 years of age is not sent to school but is engaged in labor. However, government officials do not take action to bring children to school. The HWA said that the government and the line agencies lack commitment and will to implement laws and end miseries in children’s lives. Thus, the HWA demanded that the government and the relevant departments take the matter seriously and help children reach school rather than the workplace, where they are abused, exploited, and tortured.