PESHAWAR: The International Labor Organization (ILO) has feared that as many as 86 billion children will go to child labor following COVID-19 lockdown acorss the globe with 2 percent from South Asia.
This was informed during a consultative meeting held here by “Da Hawwa Lur”, leading Child Rights Movement here at KP Secretariat on the impacts of COVID-19 on Child Labor in connection with World Day Against Child Labor.
It was informed that the current lockdown situation made the children more vulnerable. They are not only loosing education opportunities but are more likely to suffer from a social evil like child labor as well, stated CEO of “Da Hawwa Lur” Khursheed Bano.
She further mentioned that we can observe the surge in the child abuse cases, exploitation and psychological distress during the lockdown situation which can have far-reaching, long term negative impact on children.
Khursheed Bano said that there are 22 million children out of school in Pakistan whereas the percentage of child labor has always been high.
“The KP Government’s report confirms that 1.8 million children are out of schools and they are either engaged in child labour or on the streets,” she remarked, adding that in fact, the legislation regarding child rights protection was made in the KP assembly in 2010 but the government had failed to implement it.
Shawana Shah, Program Manager of “Da Hawwa Lur”, stated that the loss of income and financial droughts among families is increasing the likelihood of child labor.
She therefore, stressed the need to ensure the public and private school association to promote basic education to eradicate child labor.
Mukammil Shah, Program Director from Da Las Gul, shared that Pakistan is already facing bleak in education opportunities but this lockdown has worsened the situation.
He mentioned that due to pandemic, those children who were working in small workshops, shops etc. are left out for begging on streets which can lead to increase in child abuse and their vulnerability.
Qamar Naseem from Blue Vein organization discussed that there does exist legislation and policy over child labor but unfortunately there is no implementation on the laws and related acts.
Nihal Tabassum, Lawyer from Da Hawwa Lur, briefed in detail about legislation/Policies to curb child labor in Pakistan. She mentioned that the constitution of Pakistan as well as international law discourages the child labor and stressed on implementation of existing legislation and registration of their birth to eliminate the child labor.
Imran Takkar, Project coordinator Group Development Pakistan said that, Although Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) government has taken credit for introducing the first ever Child Labor Policy in the country, while he believes that the policy is only a blossom on paper and nothing is visible on practical grounds.
All the CRM members suggested that we should save these meetings points, problems and suggestions and make a draft so that we can present that in front of education ministry. Secondly, all CSO’s must push government for implementation of legislation on child labor and an aggressive advocacy campaign must be run to ensure implementation of laws concerning child labor.