PESHAWAR: A 10 year old, Jawad Gul can be seen working in the automobile workshop with dirty hands after his family faced financial problems due to the lockdown imposed in the city with the aim to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Jawad Gul, resident of Bakhsho Pul, Peshawar, who left the school in class four and started working in automobile workshop at Shoba Bazaar. “It is not my personal or family choice but the poverty forced me to work in the automobile workshop instead of joining my friends in the schools”, said a 10-year-old Jawad Gul.
Gul added that his father Hazarat Gul was working in a brick factory but he lost his job during coronavirus related lockdown, the situation forced him to pull out his children from school as he was not even able to provide them with the daily bread. Gul have two brothers and four sisters and his father told him and his elder brother, who was studying in fifth class and now working in a tailor shop, to start work as he couldn’t support to continue their study due to financial problems.
“After working for two months in the workshop, it is still very difficult for me to adjust in the environment as all my friends were going to school and every morning father is trying to convince us to go work” Gul said. While contacting Hazrat Gul, father of Jawad Gul told The Frontier Post that it was a hard decision for every father to send his children to work in young age instead of giving them good education but sometimes we have to take decision despite our own wish.
“After losing the job, it was really hard for me to bear the expenses of my family and even was not able to provide them with daily bread”, he said this with tears in his eyes. It has been almost a year that Coronavirus outbreak was first experienced in the Wuhan City of China and later it spread rapidly in China and then worldwide in 209 countries of America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
The world adopted different measures including increasing testing facilities, quarantine and imposing lockdown with the aim to curb the spread of virus. Pakistan also imposed lockdown in the country but it also created some serious problems in different parts of the country and one of the major problems is an increase of poverty ratio. The Covid-19 related lockdown measures have disturbed many aspects of human life but mostly hit the life of common people and most importantly life of children.
According to an analysis published by UNICEF, the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown measures have globally pushed 150 million more children into poverty. Since the start of the outbreak, it added, there has been a 15% increase in the number of children living in deprivation in low and middle-income nations, taking the total number to around 1.2 billion.
The report notes that the world’s poorest children are getting poorer and warns that the situation will likely deteriorate further in the coming months.
While commenting on the issue, Imran Takkar, a Child Rights Activist told The Frontier Post that the human and natural disasters always caused destruction at different level but most of the affected part of the society was the children. Takkar added that unfortunately Pakistan hit by terrorisms, flood, earthquake and now coronavirus which put people further into poverty, unemployment and it surely increased child labour.
Population growth, and lack of education facilities are also some of the factors behind increase in child labour. He shared that 3.3 million children are involved in child labour in Pakistan as per 1996 survey but since that no survey was conducted regarding child labour in Pakistan. In 2017 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took initiative regarding child labour survey on provincial level but despite of allocation of funds the survey is still in pending.
As per non-governmental data, at least 20.5 million children are out of school including 10 million children are in labour. Takkar informed that that 1.1 million children were working as labour in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 1996 survey however only registered firms and factories were included wherein street boys and agriculture sectors were not included.
On the other hand, “In 2017 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education department conducted a survey in which they revealed that 1.8 million children are out of school but the merged areas children were not included. If those children were included than the tally will reached to 2.5 million” Imran told The Frontier Post.
For Jawad Gul no doubt his family is severely hit by COVID 19 lockdown but his father Hazrat Gul is hopeful that the situation will improve with availability of vaccine and he will go back to work and will be able to put his sons back to school.