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Child Labour Essay

Children are the flowers of heaven. They are the most beautiful and purest creation of God. They are innocent both inwardly and outwardly. No doubt, they are the beauty of this world. Early in the morning when the children put on different kinds of clothes and begin to go to schools for the sake of knowledge, we feel a specific kind of joy through their innocence.


But there are children, those who cannot go to schools due to financial problems, they only watch others go to schools and can merely wish to seek knowledge. It is due to many hindrances and difficulties; desperate conditions that they face in life. Having been forced to kill their aspirations, dreams and other wishes, they are pressed to earn a living for themselves and for their families forgotten the pleasures of their childhood. When a child in order to earn his livelihood, does any kind of job, this act of earning a livelihood is called as Child Labour. Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination.

Children’s participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their education is generally regarded as being something positive. Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed and the conditions under which it is performed, as set out in the ILO Conventions. But before we go ahead, we must be clear about definition of child in our mind.

In this regard United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)’s definition is regarded as standard, which defines “child” as anyone below the age of 18, and “child Labour” as some type of work performed by children below age 18. But, it must also be noted that individual governments may define “child” according to different ages or other criteria. Child and childhood are also defined differently by different cultures. a child is not necessarily defined by a fixed age. Social scientists point out that child’s abilities and maturities vary so much that defining a child’s maturity by calendar age can be misleading.


Child Labour is the natural outcome of extenuating circumstances, which evolve when the compelling forces of abject poverty, sprouting population,
and non-existent facilities of health, education and welfare, exploited the deprived and disadvantaged populace. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child Labour as:

1- When a child is working during early age
2- He overworks or gives over time to Labour
3- He works due to the psychologically, socially, and materialistic pressure
4- He becomes ready to Labour on a very low pay


The concept of child Labour got much attention during the 1990s when European countries announced a ban on the goods of the less-developed countries because of child Labour. The curse gained power in the industrial revolution at the end of nineteenth century. The Victorian era became notorious for employing young children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps. Child labour played an important role in the Industrial Revolution from its outset, often brought about by economic hardship.

The children of the poor were expected to help towards the family budget, often working long hours in dangerous jobs for low pay, earning 10-20% of an adult male’s wages. In England and Scotland in 1788, two-thirds of the workers in 143 water-powered cotton mills were described as children. In 19th-century Great Britain, one-third of poor families were without a breadwinner, as a result of death or abandonment, obliging many children to work from a young age.

Not only in the west, but also in the East and Middle-East countries, this curse was rooted in societies, but not as intensely, as in the West. With the passage of time, with growing economic pressure, people had no choice but to make their children share their economic burden and help them financially.


According to estimates by International Labour Organization (ILO), in their report of 2006, the number of working children aged 5-14 years was globally190 million.
Child Labour
122 Million
Greatest in Number
Sub-Saharan Africa
50 Million
26% of total
Latin America
5 Million
13 Million

The following statistics summarise the key findings from the third ILO Global Report on Child Labour Accelerating action against child labour which contains new global estimates on child labour. Children comprise of 60% of the world’s total. On average, one child in every seven can be classified as a child labourer. The incidence of child labour is highest in Africa where 41% of 5-14 years old children are known to labour, compared with 25% in Asia and 17% in Latin America and Caribbean. In 2008, there were approximately 215 million child labourers, aged 5-17, in the world. Among them, 115 million children were in hazardous work (a term which is often used as a payment, only food and a place to sleep. Children in informal sector work receive no payment if they are injured or become ill, and can seek no protection if they suffer violence or are maltreated by their employer. 10% of these children are working 60 hours a week.


UNICEF has classified child work into three broad categories:

1. Within the Family
Children are engaged without pay in domestic household tasks, agricultural pastoral work, handicraft/cottage industries etc.
2. Within the Family but outside the Home
Children do agricultural/pastoral work which consists of (seasonal/ full-time) migrant labour, local agricultural work, domestic service, construction work and informal occupation e.g. recycling of waste- employed by others and self-employed.
3. Outside the Family
Children are employed by others in bonded work, apprenticeship, skilled trades (Carpet, embroidery, and brass/copper work), industrial unskilled occupations/ mines, domestic work, commercial work in shops and restaurants, begging, prostitution and pornography. Its further classifications are:

a. Migrant Child Labour

Child migrate from the rural area to the urban or from smaller to larger towns cities either with their families or alone. They migrate either for better employment opportunities or to escape from bondage

b. Bonded Child Labour

Children are pledged by their parents/guardians to employers in lieu of debts or payment. The rates of interest on loans are so high that the amount to be repaid accumulates every year, making repayment almost impossible

c. Urban Child Labour

The phenomenon of urban child labour includes street children. These children belong to three broad categories:

i. Children on the Street
Working children who have families but spend most of their time in streets They earn for themselves and may or may not contribute to the family income.

ii. Children off the Streets
Working children who have left their families in villages or towns and have migrated to the city. They do not have a place to live and hence spend their nights at the railway platforms, bus stands etc. They live independently and usually spend all that they earn in the same day.

iii. Abandoned/Orphaned Children
Working children without families or whose families have abandoned them They spend their lives on the streets without any kind of support and are hence the most exploited and abused of the lot.

d. Invisible Child Labour

Children work in the unorganized or/and informal sector.
They do not come under the purview of law.
They constitute a substantial proportion of the child labour in the country.
Most of them do not go to school and are involved in criminal activities.


There are a number of causes which are responsible for this curse; some of the major of these is discussed as below:

International Labour Organization (ILO) suggests poverty is the greatest single cause behind child labour. There is also the high inflation rate to contend with. As of 2008, 17.2% of the total population lives below the poverty line, which is the lowest figure in the history of Pakistan. Poverty levels in Pakistan appear to necessitate that children work in order to allow families to reach their target take‐home pay.

Literacy and Educational Problems
Majority of the population of the country is illiterate. It is pitiful that they themselves do not want to get educated. This may be due to any of these reasons: Quality education is expensive. To get their children educated, parents have to work more and harder to meet the expenses. This leads to disappointment among the parents and they either send them to “Madrassas” or send them to work. A student who has just passed his matriculation exams, and unfortunately was not able to secure good marks has very dull chances of making a profitable career in the future. Thus he joins some workshop and starts learning mechanics which enables him to earn a livelihood in the future.

This may take long, but this always works. There also exists a phobia among teen agers that education is very tough, demanding and difficult. So, sometimes they do not go for education and always are in quest of alternatives. Irrelevant, non-effective and non- standardized, non-vocational education has made schools and education system just a burden to society. Illiterate parents do not realize the need for a proper physical, emotional and cognitive development of their child. As they are illiterate, they do not realize the importance of education for their child.

Traditional Values
In third-world countries, where child labour was common, as well as in contemporary child labour of modern world, certain cultural beliefs have rationalized child labour and thereby encouraged it. Some view that work is good for the character-building and skill development of children. In many cultures, particular where informal economy and small household businesses thrive, the cultural tradition is that children follow in their parents’ footsteps; child labour then is a means to learn and practice that trade from a very early age. Similarly, in many cultures the education of girls is less valued or girls are simply not expected to need formal schooling, and these girls pushed into child labour such as providing domestic services.

Ignorance of Parents
This is one of the important social cases often visible in step-parents and foster-parents. The parents are simply ignorant of adverse consequences of child labour. They just put their children to work and become contented that the total income of the house is increased. And if at all, they know about the circumstances, they are unaware of their rights and are less likely to complain or revolt. Sometimes, even adverse circumstances are noticed. The parents just leave their children alone and ask them to earn their livelihood themselves. Sometimes parents sell their children in order to repay debts or secure a loan.

Ineffective Enforcement and Violation of the Legal Provisions Pertaining to Child Labour
Even when laws or codes of conduct exist, they are often violated. For example, extensive subcontracting can intentionally or unintentionally hide the use of child labor. There may be a number of reasons for violation e.g. The laws may be vague, inconsistent or confusing.

The government has not that much capabilities and resources to implement the laws. There may be some iron hands who do not want to implement the laws because of their own benefits.

Justifications of Employers
Child labour plays an important role in mills and factories because child labour is cheap, easily available, easily accessible and better managed as they are not able to unite against the exploitations. In countries with largest number of child labourers; India and Pakistan, mill owners justify the involvement of children in industry as they have nimble fingers which enable them to give special attention to details. Some, sort of work, they argue, can’t be done by adults as flawlessly as done by children e.g. embroidery, football stitching, carpeting, delicate glassware etc. On the side of the firms, the low cost of child labour gave manufacturers a significant advantage in the Western marketplace, where they undersell their competitors from countries prohibiting child labour, often by improbable amounts.

Other Factors
Child soldiers are forcibly enlisted into military services and operations. The international sex trade places great value on child prostitutes. Girls and to a lesser extent boys also, are kidnapped from their homes (or sold) to networks of child traffickers supplying overseas markets: poverty and sexual and racial discrimination also drive children into tourist sex trade. Other factors may include high rate of inflation, population explosion, unemployment, uneven distribution of wealth and resources, discrimination among the nation and against minority groups, poor infra-structure, outdated social customs and norms and plethora of other factors.

Forms of Child labour
During the year 2001 and 2002 the government of Pakistan carried out a series of consultation of tripartite partners and stakeholders (Labour Department, trade unions, employers and NGOs) in all the provinces. The objective was to identify the occupations and the categories of work, which may be considered as hazardous under the provisions of ILO Convention 182. As a result of these deliberations, a national consensus list of occupations and categories of work was identified, which is given below: Work inside underground mines over ground quarries, including blasting and assisting in blasting Work with power driven cutting machinery like saws, shears, and guillotines, ( Thrashers, fodder cutting machines, also marbles) Work with live electrical wires over 50V.

All operation related to leather tanning process e.g. soaking, de-hairing, liming chrome tanning, de-liming, pickling de-fleshing, and ink application. Mixing or application of pesticides insecticide/fumigation. Sandblasting and other work involving exposure to free silica. Work with exposure to All toxic, explosive and carcinogenic chemicals e.g. ammonia, chlorine, sulphur dioxide, organic and inorganic acids, caustic soda, phosphorus, epoxy, resins, metal fumes of heavy metals like nickel, mercury chromium, lead, arsenic etc. Work with exposure to cement dust (cement industry and construction industry) Work with exposure to coal dust

Manufacture and sale of fireworks explosives
Work at the sites where Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) are filled in cylinders.
Work on glass and metal furnaces
Football stitching and making of toys
Work in the clothe printing, dyeing and finishing sections
Work inside sewer pipelines, pits, storage tanks
Stone crushing
Lifting and carrying of heavy weight specially in transport industry ( 15kg and above)
Work between 10 pm to 8 am ( Hotel Industry)
Carpet waving
Working 2m above the floor
All scavenging including garbage and hospital waste
Tobacco processing ( including Niswar) and Manufacturing
Deep fishing ( commercial fishing/ sea food and fish processing Sheep casing and wool industry
Ship breaking
Surgical instrument manufacturing specially in vendors workshop
Bangles glass, furnaces
Beggary, prostitution and other criminal activities
Laws and Reforms
Before we talk about labour laws, let’s first have a look at the constitutional provisions pertaining to child labour. • Article 3: The state shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfillment of fundamental principle, from each according to his ability and to each according to his work. • Article 11(3): No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment. • Article 25(A): The state shall provide free and

Setting-up credit and savings schemes in an attempt to provide alternatives to bonded labour. Vocational education is also one of the major clauses compulsory to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as determined by law. • Article 37(e): The state shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that women and children are not employed in vacations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women in employment.

Following instruments of legislation deal exclusively with the subject of child labour.
• The Employment of Children Act 1991
• The Employment of Children Rules 1995
Other than these two, there are other laws as well which deal with the employment of children and regulate the working conditions for employed child workers. Mines Act, 1923
The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933
The Factories Act, 1934
The Road Transport Workers Ordinance, 1961
Shops and Establishments Ordinance, 1969
The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1992.
The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994
Merchant Shipping Ordinance, 2001
Efforts to Reduce Child Labour
Save the Children Movement

Save the children has also been working with some of the sporting goods manufacturers represented by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and their international partner brands, represented by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). This joint effort is aimed at ensuring that children are not employed to stitch footballs. Save the Children has also worked on project with the British Secretary of State for International Development to phase out child labour in Sialkot. The £750,000 donated by Britain will be spent on education and training, and also on SPARC

SPARC has conducted research that goes into producing its publications, including three major books on child labour, juvenile justice and child rights. Its annual report The State of Pakistan’s Children and a large number of brochures, SPARC has conducted a number of research studies. SPARC has continued to ask successive governments to upgrade their laws to set a legal age limit for employment in Pakistan, although they have not been successful in doing so. Other NGOs

Other NGOs that has worked on the issue of child labour in Pakistan includes organization such as UNICEF. UNICEF supported the NCCWD in drafting of the Child Protection Law and the Child Protection Policy and initiated the establishment of Child Protection Monitoring and Data Collecting System. Many other NGO such as ROZAN has work to protect the children. SPARC is also an NGO.

Impacts on Society

Some of the impacts of Child labour are as follows:
Stunted growth of future generation
Inability to contribute to and benefit from development
Citizens with accumulated frustration
Adult unemployment
Depreciation in wages
Rising poverty level and economic inequality
Increased abuse rate of children
Heightened crime rate
Increased illiteracy
Citizens with inferiority complex
Malnourished and sick citizens
Political instability
Inter-generational phenomenon of child labour
Increased constrictions in the development process
Wasted human resources, talents and skills
Suggestions to Eradicate Child Labour

Possibly there can be no remedies for this problem. However short and long measures are possible. Rather child labour is banned in law but it is there as crime. However, it needs to draw the attention of concerns to the issue so that the root causes of issue may be explored and take a step forward with better strategy to cope with the issue systematically. The law-breakers must be punished accordingly. The parents of the children should be motivated for the purpose. The support mechanism should include schooling facilities, evolve marketing linkages of certain occupations and crafts by making communities the owner of their business preventing from external exploitation The children we employ in our homes will grow up and head families of similarly low income. They will want their children to earn for them the same way they did for their parents. A steady family profession will be established, which will repeat and multiply in each generation.

Until and unless we remove this economic incentive for having more children, poverty and population control will remain elusive. By refusing to employ a child in your home, you can help solve the problem As the provision of universal and compulsory education should be fixed upto matriculation at least, in the very start. This education should be completely free with free provision of books and uniform. The banks should advance loans for the affected families, as by micro credit banks, to start some cottage industry at their homes. Loans should be interest less and very small installments should be covered. All such cottage industries should work under the supervision of an expert. Also, facilitate and sensitize Government to take steps getting workers out of debt. For the purpose special funds might be allocated. Children used to labour can be best equipped with manual competence, by inducting them to technical and professional training.

For them, special vocational institutes should be opened for best results, where education and technical knowledge shall go hand-in-hand. Small stipends shall virtually work wonders. Disabled children must receive priority attention due to their particular vulnerability to exploitation in the worst forms of child labour on the streets. Civil society and media’s engagement can change the attitude. It can raise awareness among people about child labour, population growth and its adverse effects on health and development, thus alleviating children’s vulnerability to get abused. Children should be guarded against hard work, in accordance with the children’s right and human rights.

They should be provided opportunities to better their lot by giving them a chance to physically, intellectually, morally and socially to grow, develop and progress. Various international agencies are closely cooperating by providing monetary assistance besides material goods. All these materials and funds should be employed for their welfare, and, no one should be allowed to rob them of rightful privileges and facilities. In this respect, there is wide scope for N.G.O’s should come forward and chalk out practical planning for the alleviations of child labour.


The project is about a very controversial issue: Child Labour. The report conveys that how the innocent creatures are bound to work for longer hours in very minute amount of income and gaining benefit of them. Child labor is a multi-dimensional issue. With no intentions of demystifying this complex, one would focus on the difference between child labor and child work, and possible consequences of deliberate or unaware exercise of the two terms interchangeably. Child labor reflects the violation of child rights leading to exploitation and deprivations of all kinds. Child work reflects social inequity and insecurity, dearth of social safety networks, magnitude of poverty, lacking of opportunities for health and education, and financial independence. The report also states the classifications, forms, reasons and impacts of child labour on society. It further talks about different laws and organization working for these laws. It also points out the ways to stop this curse.


www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/laborctr/child_labor/about/what_is_child_labor.html www.child-abuse.laws.com/child-labor
Child Labour & Educational Disadvantage a Review by Gordon Brown

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