We are burning our future, our children into ashes. And we’re not even sorry

Although we have, in theory, abolished human slavery, recognized women’s rights, and stopped child labor, we continue to enslave other species who, if we simply pay attention, show quite clearly that they experience parental love, pain, and the desire for freedom, just as we do.” – Ingrid Newkirk

“Children are our future” this sentence repeatedly falls on our ears but as far as its veracity is concerned, the situation is bleak for this part of the world called Pakistan.

Once upon a time England was also plagued by child labor. Williams Blake’s poem The Chimney Sweepers depicts a dark picture of 18th century England.

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.

(Chimney Sweepers, William Blake)

That dreary and dismal phase has been over for England since long but Pakistan remains bedeviled by child labor in different forms. Unfortunately, the only sphere where Pakistan has shown an improvement in its rank is child labor. According to a DunyaNews report “Pakistan has been ranked third in the world for having the largest children’s workforce” (31 March, 2016). The irony goes beyond this; there aren’t any ‘official’ statistics available, because the last survey on National Child Labor was conducted 21 years ago.

According to United States Department of Labour’s Bureau of International Labour Affairs, in Pakistan 76 percent of children in age group 5-14 are employed in agriculture sector, 14.6 percent in services and 6.7 percent in manufacturing.

The Employment of Children Act 1991 was passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan. It provides the definitions of ‘adolescent’, ‘child’, ‘factory’, ‘inspector ‘ and establishes 14 years as the minimum age for employment in any “establishment” which includes a shop, commercial establishment, workshop, factory, farm, residential hotel or “factory”. It prohibits the employment of children, restricts the employment of adolescents in certain occupations and processes. It also regulates the duration and conditions of work. Since the power has been devolved to the provinces after 18th amendment, legislation pertaining labor falls under the domain of provinces. The provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took the lead and passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children, Act 2015.The province of Punjab followed the suit and came with The Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act 2016. And then the government of Sindh woke up from slumber as well and passed Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017. The provincial assembly of Baluchistan has yet to decide on the matter.

The story does not end here; the existing law does not provide any remedy for millions of those children who are assaulted and abused every day in domestic settings. According to ILO (2004) there are 264,000 children in Pakistan working as servants and maids in homes. There is no ‘law’ for them.

Where to shift the blame for this ruthless apathy? On the government that passes and promulgates laws but fails to enforce them? On the cruel circumstances and poverty that makes these innocent souls dehumanized objects? Or on those vile creatures that destroy their future? There is no answer and as Chuck Palahniuk said ‘The answer is that there is no answer’. The greatest tragedy is that we are burning our future, our children into ashes – and we are not even sorry for that!

You might also like More from author

5 Comments

  1. akmal says

    THERE IS A ANSWER and that is not just pass laws but get rid off the CHORS who rob these children’s future so there kids can live like kings ,by that i mean the likes of NAWAZ & FAMILY ZARDRI & PAPPU BILLO & SPECIALLY THE LIKE,S OFF MULANA DIESEL ,for they are robbing pak blind .pakistan has so much potential that if uk was in that position the country would be turned around within a year..YOU NEED VOTE FOR PPLE LIKE IMRAN WHO CAN TURN PAKISTAN INTO THE COUNTRY IT SHOULD BE .and all pak pple need change ,be honest and caring pple then u will see WHAT GREAT COUNTRY PAK CAN BE

    1. farhan says

      I don’t think imran even can do change. All politician are CHORS and pakistani nation will suffer for life.

      1. akmal says

        when has imran done any chory tell me..and u & ur parents been voting nawaz & zardri lot again & again but u have judged IMRAN before he has ruled pak WOW , u couldnt work out for years & years that the rulers where robbing pak but now u know what imrans going to do in future. and a another thing are u all honest in pak?? after a very long time (cus of imran) we started a business in pak and finding pple are no different to the rulers ,they (the pple) try to fiddle & cheat where ever they can ,so maybe u all need to change.O one more thing i guarantee u IMRAN will never robb from pak like zardri or nawaz & if imran comes in power u will get a lot off investment from pakistani,s living in uk & usa & thats a fact

  2. someone says

    Unless people get awareness, nothing will change, Imran just wants to be the king. There is no point of blaming politicians, If we leave the doors open anyone can take advantage.
    Unfortunately we don’t have any organization in Pakistan which works for people. All are political parties which try to influence people for their own advantage, thats why people only act under political parties influence.
    As far as the media goes there is not much there, any conversation starts and ends with discussion on political parties. There is hardly any program and probably very few writers or publications which write for the betterment of people and giving them awareness….
    Unless you train the people nothing will change….

  3. Dr Hashir Amin Malik says

    Unfortunately we’re a long way to even realise the consequence, leave aside the hope to act wise.
    This isn’t a problem to the ruling elite

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.