The recent Punjab Prohibition of Child Labor at Brick Kilns bill, that was passed the day before yesterday, seems to be a promising start. According to the bill, anyone who is caught employing children below 14 years of age at the brick kilns of Punjab will be given a six month prison sentence. The sentence will be accompanied by a fine as high as 50,000 Rs. The bill has also increased the peshgi (advance payment) limit to 50,000 – an amount that is paid to the workers at the start of their employment. Although, it appears to be a good step but increasing the peshgi limit will contribute to bonded labor, to some extent. Keeping everything aside, if the government succeeds in implementing the bill in its entirety, child labor at brick kilns is likely to decline to a significant degree.
Back in 1995, a bullet silenced the little Iqabl Masih – the most celebrated 12-year old champion of Child Labor, in Pakistan.
Since then and even before that, a number of Child Right Acts and Laws have been passed. However, most of them have failed to live up to the expectations set by the little Iqbal Masih mainly because the government just could not seem to implement them. According to the Bureau of Statistics Punjab, approximately 5420 children, under the age of 14, are working at workshops while a colossal number of them, 1636, is working at hotels or restaurants. The number of kids working as household workers is even difficult to estimate, mainly because nobody knows what goes on inside our houses.
Unfortunately in Pakistan, the abundance of child laborers is not so much because of the lack of child laws, it can, however, most certainly be attributed to our implementation-wary government as well as the nation.
Here is what Pakistanis have to say about the recent developments regarding the Punjab Prohibition of Child Labor Bill, 2016.
— Al-Muslima (@sirf_Pakistani) August 31, 2016
While people seem to appreciate this step taken by the Punjab government, apprehensions regarding its implementation have not left their minds as of yet.
#Punjab Assembly legislates to ban child labour, help terror victims – Good work, make sure its implemented
— Haroon Iqbal (@haroonpk) August 29, 2016
Moreover, the government first needs to work towards providing alternative sources of livelihood for the parents of such children because sending their kids to school is not an option for them, given their poverty stricken circumstances.
A good first step by Punjab govt to crack down on child labour, but what will the children do when the govt schools are already full?
— Rehan Babar (@Rehanbabartv) August 2, 2016
Here is hoping that this bill does not see the same fate as the “good laws” that are passed but never really implemented. Although, the bill has been criticized for limiting the age to 14 instead of 16, it is an incredible step nonetheless.
Cover Image Via: huffpost.com