August 13, 2023
A young girl named Rizwana was allegedly subjected to extreme abuse and torment by her employer in Islamabad. This case is just one example, highlighting the rampant issue of child domestic labor in Pakistan. Despite some efforts to address the problem, there is an urgent need for stronger legislation, increased awareness, and better protection mechanisms to eliminate this form of modern slavery. This article examines the current situation, calls for legal reforms, and emphasizes the collective responsibility to ensure the safety and rights of all children.
Child domestic labor is a recurring problem in Pakistan, with numerous reported cases of abuse, violence, and even murder. In the past, children like Rafiq Qabool and Zohra Shah have tragically lost their lives while working as domestic helpers. The prevalence of such incidents highlights the urgent need for action.
In order to address this issue effectively, the Pakistani government must align domestic laws with international commitments, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention. Although Pakistan has ratified these agreements, child domestic labor is not recognized as a hazardous or worst form of work in national law.
Furthermore, efforts to improve education and protect the rights of children are crucial. The right to free and compulsory education, as stated in Article 25A of the Constitution of Pakistan, must be fully implemented to ensure that all children have access to education and are not forced into labor at a young age. Additionally, the state should establish a comprehensive child protection policy and improve inter-departmental coordination to safeguard the well-being of children.
Criminalizing child domestic labor and enforcing stronger legislation is essential to discourage the practice and ensure the prosecution of offenders. Raising awareness among communities, increasing the minimum wage for adults, and providing social protection programs linked to education can also contribute to reducing the prevalence of child domestic labor. Ultimately, ending child labor in all forms requires a collective effort from the government, civil society, and every citizen.