Child Labourers in Pakistan
Socio Economic Conditions of Child Labourers in Pakistan: Evidence from the Labour Force Survey
Child labour has emerged as a serious, widespread and growing problem in many parts of the world. Asia has a large number of children employed as child labourers. Child Labour Survey 1996 reports that there are 3.3 million children working between the ages of 5 and 14 years in Pakistan.
Developed countries have linked trade with child labour through the Harkin Bill and the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Agreement (1994), which banned the market manufactured or mined goods produced in whole or in part by children under 15 years of age. Pakistan is also facing restrictions on some of its exports due to allegations of child labour. However, Pakistan has enacted the Employment of Children Act of 1991, which has banned employment of children below the age of 14 years.1
The problem of child labour persists even in the presence of trade sanctions and legislation. In fact, trade restrictions and laws are only demand side factors, and they can intensify the problem, which could result in children being diverted to less desirable or more hazardous work, where it can flourish without being noticed. Therefore, mishandling of this issue can make matters go from bad to worse.
We should work in a realistic way to deal with this complex issue. The policy makers, in order to combat child labour effectively, need detailed information about child labour. It is therefore relevant to explore the details about child labourers’ socio economic profile in detail at the micro level. Further, factors determining parent’s decision to send their children to the labour market should be identified in detail.
Keeping in view this background, the present study is an attempt to identify the socio economic features of working and non-working children between the ages of 10-14 years.2 Moreover, conditions of working children.
1*The authors are Trainee Officer at the State Bank of Pakistan Karachi, and Consultant at Social Policy and Development Center Karachi, respectively. 1 See Hyder (1998) for details. 2 In Pakistan, the data about the extent of working children between the ages of 5-14 are not found well documented regularly. The Census and Labour Force Survey are two main sources of manpower statistics, but they set the standard age-cut off point at 10 years for labour force participation.