Child Labor Refers to the Employment of Children
Child labor refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives them of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful. In villages, it is a common sight to see children of poor families working in fields or elsewhere to contribute to the family income. Such children are deprived of opportunities of education and are also prone to health risks.
In a sense, child labor is open exploitation as it deprives children of education and pushes them into exploitative situations. The side-effects of working at a young age are: risks of contracting occupational diseases like skin diseases, diseases of the lungs, weak eyesight, TB etc.; vulnerability to sexual exploitation at the workplace; deprived of education. They grow up unable to avail development opportunities and end up as unskilled workers for the rest of their lives.
How it works
Firstly the most primary reason behind the increasing child labor is the prevailing poverty in Pakistan. The per-capita income is approximately $1900. There is also a high inflation rate. More than 38.8 % of the population in Pakistan is living below poverty line, with one in four individuals living in acute poverty. On average a middle class person has to feed 9 to 10 members of the family. Poverty levels force children in the family to sacrifice themselves and work to earn and reach the target of home pay. The family members are financially powerless and instead of sending their children to school they are forced to make use of extra hands in earning the money to feed the whole family once in a day. Thus many families in Pakistan rely on child labor to improve their chances of getting the daily basic necessities. In addition to this in Pakistan there are no facilities as free education or schooling. The fees of the schools are extremely high and the poor families are unable to afford the expenses of schooling their children. As a result many families are trapped in an endless cycle of poverty and child labor that runs in the family for generations.
Moreover, Pakistan is one of the most highly populated countries in south Asia with the population of about 197 million and the availability of resources is highly limited. There are more mouths to feed than resources available to earn money. High level of unemployment is major result of increasing population. Many people are unable to find suitable jobs with enough pay to sustain their families thus the families are forced to send their children to work so they can together fulfill the growing demands of daily life.
Industrialists and the Global Economy:
Elders usually find it difficult to get a job especially at industries. The industrialists and the factory owners find it profitable to hire young kids at the factories because they have to pay less to the children for the same amount of work they extract from adults. The multinational corporations expanding across the border often compete for jobs and investments. This sometimes promotes child labor as government and these corporations seek low labor costs and employ children in their factories and industries.
Furthermore, the illiteracy also plays a major role in supporting child labor. Many uneducated parents fail to realize the importance of physical and mental health of the children. They do not value the basic educational needs of children. According to their belief education is useless. They give more value to the earnings brought by the young members of the family at the present instead of the benefits of education in the future. Parents are not willing to send their children to school when they can actually earn some more money through the hands of their children. For them lack of education is least of the worries when compared to prevailing financial stress. Majority of the population of Pakistan lives in the rural areas and does not have access to basic rights. Most of the people are unaware of the laws that prevent or ban child labor. They are unaware of the ethical issues related to child labor.
Inadequate Law Enforcement:
Another reason behind this is the lack of implementation of laws. There are proper laws in the constitution of Pakistan that restrict the child labor. For example that the minimum age required for working is 14 years and no child under this age is allowed to work but in our daily life we find children younger than the age of 10 working in various field of life. This shows that the government of Pakistan has no proper check over the laws and the society of Pakistan is exploiting these laws for their own selfish and individualistic needs. There are no proper checks or prevention measures taken by the government or the society that looks in the area of child labor. Even when the laws do exist in the manufacturing industries there are so many layers of production that it becomes difficult check the performing labor at each step so many times child labor goes unchecked.
Uneven Population Distribution:
Moreover, the population of three major age brackets in Pakistan; old people (age 65 above), youngsters (15 – 65) and children (age below 15) have an uneven ratio. The people from the age bracket of 15 – 16 are the working force and the economically productive group but in Pakistan the population of this age bracket is lesser when compared to the age bracket of children thus many children have to become the part the working force. Hence uneven population distribution plays an important role in increasing child labor.
Similarly there are many orphans in Pakistan. These children have no one to support them or protect them from the cruel society and often become the target of child labor. There are no proper caregivers for them so these children are forced to work in order to survive every day. Many industries like the carpet industry, football industry employs such children.
There are also some special cases where families breakdown for many reasons, leaving households for short income. For example in a divorce case one parent is given custody of more children and he can’t afford to look after them financially and is forced to take help from his children. Sometimes domestic violence or death in family devastates the household. And there are also the unfortunate cases of natural disasters that add fuel to the human crisis. The major aftermath of all above scenarios is the unwanted child labor.
Newton’s third law states “to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”. Well it comes to social actions even the norms of equality. A good deed is rewarded hundreds time more where as a bad deed is punished a “thousand” times worse. Just as a good deed is for the society in the same way a bad deed is also for the whole society. There is a famous quotation
We can never escape the consequences of what we do especially when it comes to social vices. Child labor too has a lot of consequences that spread from grass root levee to the international level. Here four of the most important consequences are discussed.
- Individual consequences
- Social consequences
- Economy of the country
- Reputation of the country
There are a lot of effects of child labor on society and it all starts when living in such environment. This effect the mental and physical health very badly. Environment influence the most in which a person is living. Sad thing is that many of the children are suffering and diseased because of working pressure. It is being said “Healthy children grow int healthy adults “. If children are not properly cared of, then they will become weak and depressed. Physical abuse is the main consequence of child labor.
Child labor interrupts the education of a child and literacy rate increases in society. It is a big hurdle and education is not being considered as important. They become deprived of their basic rights. According to International Labor Organization, in Pakistan there are 40 million children age between 5- 14 years and among them 3.3 million children that are engaged in labor. Literacy is an important tool in order to get your rights. To get your rights in society you have to speak up and education plays an important role in it. You need power to change the social behavior, to say that you’re not satisfied and stuff. Children when they should be sent to schools are being sent to work. If most of the children are sent to work instead of schools then it would lead to environment in which it would be very difficult to survive. It also lead to mental disturbance of children who are not being sent to schools.
There became unequal distribution of power in society. Rich people living luxurious life while poor children working to earn for their family. Since birth they are being taught their responsibilities and basic rights are being snatched from them. The worst form of it is children working for more than nine hours, sleeping on roads and still not getting enough wage and peaceful life. In this way children are being oppressed and this badly effects the image of any society. An illiterate society is formed which is weak morally and ethically. People start thinking that it is helpful if the kids are doing their part in household and is learning but in this way many of the families became completely dependent on that child.
Child spend more time in labor instead of playing with friends. This ruins their childhood very badly. Emotional neglect such as deprivation of family love and affection, resulting in loneliness, and hopelessness.
In an age meant for children to learn manners and ethics they are forced to learn how to use tools, in an age meant for the personality and character of children to mold they are forced to mold iron, in an age meant for repairing children behavior they are forced to repair machines, in an age meant for the children to play with dolls and toys they are forced to build and sell them, in an age meant for the children to polish their skills they are forced to polish other people’s dirty shoes and in an age meant to clean the dirt from the minds of children they are forced o clean the dirt from other people’s houses then how can we expect these children to grow up to form an ideal society.
In this way not only we destroy the children individual lives but also destroy the society as a whole. The society is in fact the collective attributes of the people within. When the individual attributes of the people are dusty then the society resulting from it will also be dusty. Hence, child labor destroys the society as a whole.
Economy of the Country:
The most common excuse given by the people to support child labor is that it brings income for the home. The question that rises here is that are only the children left to earn? Children are meant to learn not to earn. Providing the daily bread is the responsibility of the elders not the young. In the age meant for learning and mental grooming a child is sent to a factory or a workshop to earn instead of a school or a madrassas to learn. These small earnings might at time solve the financial problems of the home but create everlasting problems for the economy of the country.
The economy of a country is directly proportional to the literacy rate in the country. While the literacy rate is inversely proportional to the child labor. The more the child labor in the country the lesser the literacy rate, the lesser the literacy rate the weaker the economy of the country. Hence it can be observed that the strength of the economy of a country is inversely proportional to the child labor.
Child labor in any country can lead to bad image of that country. That country seems to be not giving rights to their citizens. Citizens are suffering and illiterate. Child labor can slow down the social and economic development. It may disturb the relations of one country with another. It will reduce foreign investments. Foreign countries would seem less interested in doing projects and deals because of large amount of illiterate people. It poses a threat to national economies and relations. Many of the countries are working on it and have been decreased to much extent but still there are countries like Ethiopia, India, Pakistan etc. where issue of child labor is not being focused. In order to get a good image of a country, such issues have to be resolved. When tourists visit the country, they come to know about such issues and in this way bad image is created in their minds. These issues create hurdles in the development of country. Child labor in tobacco is increased in poor countries. It declined between 2000 and 2013 in Turkey, Brazil and the United States, but increased in others, such as Argentina, India and Zimbabwe.
Concluding all this, “Children are meant to learn, not to earn.” Child labor has become very common in most of the developing countries. Under age children are put to work as they jump from their mothers lap. This act is common usually in lower class families whose head cannot earn enough to feed his family, so he puts every individual of his family to earn, thus the children instead of learning or playing are earning for their family. There are adverse effects of child labor individually and collectively. It also affects the family and portrays a very wrong image. Although he or she becomes a hard worker but can never be an ethical and good citizen. Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time (Grace Abbot, Brainy Quotes).
According to a report in Wikipedia, “It ranges between 250 and 304 million, if children aged 5–17 involved in any economic activity are counted. If light occasional work is excluded, ILO estimates there were 153 million child laborers aged 5–14 worldwide in 2008.” Child labor can be eradicated by sending the children to schools and not to work. Their fate is written ye the God and they are not accountable for that, thus they must be treated as our parents have treated us and should be given the same rank as of the higher class children. Child labor should definitely be eradicated and finished from the world as it is a nightmare for these children and their parents. “In serving the best interests of children, we serve the best interests of all humanity.””(Carol Bellamy )