Child Labour in Pakistan Analysis

Child labour situationThe National Child Labour survey,1 conducted in 1996 by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, found 3.3 million of the 40 million children (in the 5-14 years age group) to be economically active2 on a full-time basis. Of the 3.3 million working children, 73 per cent (2.4 million) were boys and 27 per cent (0.9 million), girls. Children’s contribution to work in rural areas is about eight times greater than in urban areas.

The number of economically active children in the 10-14 years age group is more than four times the children in the 5-9 years age group. Rural children are mostly engaged in the agricultural sector (74 per cent), whereas in urban areas, most working children (31 per cent) are engaged in the manufacturing sector. In both areas, the percentage of girls working in manufacturing and services is higher than that of boys; this indicates that girls are more likely to work in the manufacturing and services sectors as compared to boys. It is also observed

1 See summary results of the Child Labour Survey in Pakistan (1996): pakistan/report/pakistan96.pdf. Survey undertaken with the support of the ILO. 2 Economic activity includes both paid and unpaid, casual and illegal work, as well as work in the informal sector, but excludes unpaid domestic services within own household.

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that in the non-agricultural sectors, most of the working children (93 per cent) are engaged in informal activities. A considerable proportion of the working children in the 5-14 years age group (46 per cent) are working more than the normal working hours, i.e. 35 hours per week, with 13 per cent working 56 hours or more per week. In urban areas, 73 per cent of the working children work more than the normal working hours, which is significantly higher than in rural areas (42 per cent). This shows that working conditions are generally worse in urban areas. According to surveyfindings, the major factors responsible for child labour were: G G

Large population with high population growth rate; Almost three-fourths (70 per cent) of the total population living in rural areas, with subsistence agricultural activities; Low productivity and prevalence of poverty; Unpaid family helpers, especially in agricultural activities; Discriminating social attitude towards girls and women; Inadequate educational facilities.


Working children come from large families in the low-income bracket. The average household size of working children was found to be eight members, which is higher than the national average. A higher proportion of economically active girls falls under households with nine plus members. The survey indicates that the most cogent reasons given by parents/guardians for letting their child work are to assist in house enterprise (69 per cent), and to supplement the household income (28 per cent). The former is pronounced in rural households, whereas the latter is more significant in urban families. One-third of the working children are literate, which shows that mere completion of primary education is not an effective deterrent to child labour.

School enrolment indicates that economically active children who are not enrolled in school (34.2 per cent) are higher than economically active children combined with school (13.2 per cent). This shows that enrolment is negatively correlated with the involvement of children in economic activity. Education attainment is low because of limited opportunities resulting from inaccessibility of schools; inability of parents to afford schooling costs; irrelevance of school curriculum to real needs, and restrictions on girls’ mobility in certain parts of the country.

National legislation and policies against child labourLegislationArticle 11 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan forbids slavery and states that no law shall permit or facilitate its introduction into Pakistan in any form. Article 11 (2) prohibits all forms of forced labour and traffic in human beings, Article 11 (3) prohibits employment of children below the ageof 14 years in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment. Major national legislative developments include: G

The Employment of Children Act (ECA), 1991: Section 2 of the Act defines a ‘child’ to mean any person who has not completed his fourteenth year. Prohibition Section 3 of the Act bans employment of under-14 children in occupations connected with transport by railways, cinder picking, cleaning of an ash pit or building operations in railway premises, catering at a railway station or on a train, construction of a railway station, working close or between railway lines, working in a port area, and manufacture or sale of fireworks. Part II prohibits employment of children in 13 specific sectors. The prohibition against employing children in hazardous labour, and the regulations governing the working


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conditions of children under 14 do not apply to family run establishments, and schools (training institutes) established, assisted, or organized by the Government; G

The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1992: The Act explicitly defines peshgi (or advance), bonded debt, bonded labour, bonded labourer, bonded labour system, family, and nominal wages. It considers any work done against peshgi as a form of bonded labour. The Act abolishes the bonded labour system with immediate effect. It declares all bonded labour free and discharged from any obligation to render any bonded labour, or any form of forced labour, or payment of debts.

The Act prohibits any person from extracting labour under forced conditions from anyone. All customs, traditions, or contracts entered into before or after the commencement of the Act, pertaining to forced labour or bonded labour, have been declared void and inoperative; The Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance (promulgated in October 2002):

This Ordinance applies to all children aged less than 18 years. It defines exploitative entertainment as all activities in connection with human sports or sexual practices, and related abusive practices. According to the Ordinance, human trafficking means recruiting, buying or selling a person, with or without consent, by use of coercion, abduction, or by giving payment or share for such person’s transportation, for exploitative entertainment. The Ordinance prescribes severe terms of punishment — 7-14 years’ imprisonment — for perpetrators, depending on the degree of involvement in trafficking. If criminal groups are involved, each member of the group is liable to the same punishment.

Parents guilty of the crime involving their own children are liable for the same punishment. The Ordinance recognizes that all offences are cognizable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable. The strong measures recommended in the Ordinance are expected to check the incidence of human trafficking.

Pakistan is signatory to the:G G G G


Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182); Forced Labour Convention (No. 29); Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (No. 105); Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Government policies and programmesIn 1998, the Government of Pakistan constituted a task force on child labour under the chairmanship of the Federal Minister of Labour with the mandate of formulating policies and strategies for the elimination of child and bonded labour in Pakistan and to prepare plans for the implementation of policies and strategies. The National Policy and Plan of Action (NPPA) (May 2000) calls for progressive elimination of child labour; immediate eradication of the worst forms of child labour; a monitoring system to implement the National Plan of Action; prevention of child labour by offering alternative education, and ensuring primary education and skills training to the target children.

The NPPA for the elimination of child labour focuses on awareness raising; withdrawal of children engaged in the worst forms of child labour and their rehabilitation through education and vocational training; community mobilization; situation analysis and development of a database on child labour; law enforcement; capacity building of the relevant ministries/departments; enhancing education and skills training opportunities for children; empowerment of poor families, and promoting coordination with functional and social partners. The following coordinating bodies and agencies are involved in the implementation of the NPPA: G

The Federal Ministry of Labour acts as a focal ministry responsible for necessary legislation; policy development; awareness raising; liaising with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and other international bodies; providing a forum for exchange of information/experiences; national level monitoring and situation analysis; follow-up of the implementation of the National Plan of Action through the Permanent Advisory Committee, and development of a database on child labour;

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The Provincial Labour and Manpower Departments act as focal departments, special resource centres are to be established in the labour departments; Workers’ and employers’ organizations, as well as NGOs are expected to identify problem areas and suggest measures for advocacy, awareness raising and community mobilization, and the rehabilitation of child workers; The ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is expected to provide technical and financial support to pilot programmes and to strengthen the institutional capacity of the executing agencies.

Major strategies include enhancement of educational opportunities for working children through the launching of crash literacy programmes for school dropouts and introducing apprenticeship, vocational and skills development programmes; establishment of special resource centres in the Labour Departments to act as focal points and to monitor and coordinate the activities, and activation of the law enforcement agencies for immediate withdrawal of children working in hazardous and exploitative situations supplemented by rehabilitation programmes.

The Government of Pakistan has established a fund for the education of working children and rehabilitation of freed bonded labour with an initial endowment of PRs 100 million (approximately equivalent to US$ 2 million).

The Labour Policy, 2002, endorses the NPPA to combat child labour and states that the Government of Pakistan has accepted the responsibility to enhance the age limit to 18 years with respect to the worst forms of child labour, for entry into the labour market after ratification of the ILO Convention No. 182 in 2001. The Labour Policy plans to launch a need-based vocational training and human resource development programme for new entrants in the labour market and on-job workers, and establish model schools for the free education (12 years of schooling) of child workers.

The laws relating to apprenticeship training, vocational training, and rehabilitation of disabled persons shall be consolidated into a single legislation titled the Human Resource Development Ordinance. The Government of Pakistan, on 31 December 2003, released its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), titled ‘Accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty: The road ahead’. The PRSP gives due consideration to the issue of child labour in the planning of its targets.

It clearly outlines its commitment on child labour issues and states, “Although the government is committed to eliminate child labour as reflected in the National Policy and Plan of Action to Combat Child Labour, it is pursuing a policy of gradual elimination of all forms of child labour and immediate elimination of the hazardous and exploitative forms of child labour under IPEC. To achieve this objective, certain specified target programmes have been initiated.

“3 The Ministry of Education launched the National Plan of Action for Education for All (EFA) on 3 April 2003 for achieving universal primary education by 2015. Gender disparities are being narrowed through mixed primary schools, compensatory programmes, and appointment of female teachers.4 According to the EFA goals and targets, by 2015, all children, with special emphasis on girls and children in difficult circumstances, should have access to completely free education. Secondly, it aims at eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015. In this regard, the Education Sector Reforms, 2001/05, also aims to address the needs of child labourers.

The National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD) has initiated a national pilot project for the rehabilitation of children involved in labour. The project, called the National Project on Rehabilitation of Child Labour, is aimed at the withdrawal of children from hazardous employment, the rehabilitation of children through formal education, and the development of linkages between community health services and recreational packages. Under the project, Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal has now set up more than 80 centres to rehabilitate children working in hazardous occupations by imparting non-formal

PRSP 2003, p. 101. Government of Pakistan (2003) Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper: Accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty: The road ahead, p 69. 4

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education (NFE). Children are given a daily stipend of PRs 10 as an incentive, in addition to uniforms, shoes, other clothing and means during school hours. Parents are paid PRs 4,100 per year. Moreover, the post-Beijing National Plan of Action for Women, 1998, and the National Policy for the Empowerment and Development of Women, 2002, both have a chapter on the girl child and refer in particular to the needs of child labourers.

IPEC actionA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the ILO and the Government of Pakistan in 1994. The National Steering Committee (NSC) that has been created under this cooperation agreement is chaired by the Federal Secretary for Labour. The NSC is comprised of representatives of the concerned Federal ministries (social welfare, education, health, planning, finance), representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations, and NGOs. The role of the NSC has been gradually changing from a forum for sharing of information and experience to a coordinating body on child labour issues. This new role has become increasingly important since different ministries have formed committees of their own to address the issue from their perspective.

After having signed the MoU with the Government of Pakistan, IPEC designed and funded a series of action programmes and mini programmes to address child labour issues in various sectors with a diverse group of implementing partners all over the country. The sectors where initial IPEC interventions were made included carpet weaving, auto workshops, leather tanning, street children, beggars, and child domestic workers. The action programmes were implemented in collaboration with government departments, trade unions, employers’ associations, and civil society organizations.

A number of short duration, mini programmes, including awareness workshops with a wide range of stakeholders, recreational events, awareness films, and educational material, were supported to complement the interventions being made through the action programmes. Since 1997, IPEC has been designing broader types of intervention through IPEC projects on the elimination of child labour. The first major project, which was funded by the US Department of Labour, was initiated in Sialkot to eliminate child labour in the soccer ball industry. Currently, there are six ongoing projects on the elimination of child labour, along with four core action programmes, all part of the country programme financed by Germany.

Overview of ongoing projectsElimination of Child Labour in the Soccer Ball Industry in Sialkot (Phase II) Time-frame Duration: 2 years Starting date: August 2000 Donor(s) US Department of Labour (USDOL) FIFA Sialkot Chamber of Commerce & Industry(SCCI)

The first phase of the programme to prevent and eliminate child labour in the soccer ball industry was implemented from August 1997 to October 1999, after the signing of the Atlanta Agreement5 on 14 February 1997 by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), UNICEF and the ILO.

In mid-1996, both the surgical instruments and soccer ball industries in Sialkot district in Punjab province were affected by the US government’s withdrawal of GSP (General System of Preferences) for Pakistan. The government and the private sector had come under intense international pressure to take steps for the elimination of child labour, particularly in the country’s export industries. This has led to the signing in 1997 of the Atlanta Agreement, under which the first major programme on child labour in Pakistan was initiated by addressing the child labour problem in the soccer ball industry.

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The IPEC project has two main components: a workplace monitoring system, and a social protection component, which provides educational opportunities to children who are withdrawn from working in the soccer ball industry. During the project, 10,572 soccer ball stitching children were provided non-formal education, among which 5,838 have been mainstreamed into formal schools. IPEC set up an external monitoring system to ensure the elimination of child labour in the stitching centres of participating manufacturers. The goal was achieved successfully primarily because of the active participation and contribution of the SCCI members.

The soccer ball project has been one of the most innovative programmes of IPEC in many ways. First, it has brought together a number of actors, including the local manufacturers and the SCCI, NGOs, and international organizations. All these organizations have been working together to fulfil a common objective — the prevention and elimination of child labour in the soccer ball industry in particular, and in Sialkot in general. The programme has received wide publicity and created awareness on how to address the child labour problem within Pakistan and abroad.

Other manufacturers such as the Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (PCMEA) and the Surgical Instruments Manufacturers’ Association of Pakistan (SIMAP) have adopted similar approaches to addressing the child labour problem in their respective sectors. The second phase of the project, which aims to consolidate the achievements and address the gaps of programme implementation during the first phase, is currently in its final stage.

Combating Child Labour in the Carpet Industry (Phase II)Time-frame Duration: 3 years Starting date: September 2002 Donor(s) US Department of Labour (USDOL) Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA)

The project, Combating Child Labour in the Carpet Industry in Pakistan, is based on an agreement signed between the PCMEA (Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association) and the ILO in 1998. The agreement outlined the PCMEA-ILO partnership to eliminate child labour in the carpet industry in Pakistan. The project, which started in 2002, aims to provide non-formal education, mainstreaming, and pre-vocational education to about 23,000 carpet weaving children, and access to micro credit to the 1,000 poorest carpet weaving households.

The first phase of the project was successfully implemented in three districts (Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, and Hafizabad) and, in the second phase, the project has been expanded to three other districts (Multan, Faisalabad, and Toba Tek Singh). Again, the striking feature of the project is the active participation and contribution of funds by an employers’ association, the PCMEA. The PCMEA is working in close collaboration with the IPEC project management to establish an internal monitoring system. A comprehensive survey and an occupational safety and health study were carried out under the project. Carpet weaving is included in the national list of 29 most hazardous occupations.

The project is closely coordinated with the national Time-Bound Programme (TBP) by a joint IPEC-Pakistan technical advisor (Chief Technical Advisor). So far, the project has been able to withdraw/keep away around 13,000 carpet weaving children and their siblings (83 per cent girls) from the hazardous working conditions. These children are now enrolled in non-formal education centres, pursuing their primary education. In addition, micro credit totalling up to US$110,000 has been provided to 705 carpet weaving families in rural areas. The repayment rate is 100 per cent, which speaks for the efficiency of the micro enterprises established through these loans.

A prototype, ergonomic loom, which will improve the productivity of the adult labour, has been designed and displayed at 30 model worksites. Awareness raising material, consisting of three training videos, three booklets, and around 24,000 posters, focusing on occupational safety and health measures in carpet weaving, have been produced and distributed. As a long-term impact, the project has sown the seeds of community empowerment and created awareness about child labour and the value of education, especially for girls.


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Combating Hazardous and Exploitative Child Labour in Surgical Instruments Manufacturing (Phase II) Time-frame Duration: 3 years Starting date: July 2003 Donor(s) Government of Italy Surgical Instruments Manufacturers Association of Pakistan (SIMAP)

The Atlanta Agreement was followed by an initiative taken by the Italian Social Partners for combating child labour in the surgical instruments industry, with the collaboration of the ILO and SIMAP (Surgical Instruments Manufacturers’ Association of Pakistan) in Sialkot district. The project, titled Combating Hazardous and Exploitative Child Labour in Surgical Instruments Manufacturing through Prevention, Withdrawal, and Rehabilitation, was launched in 2000. The project aimed to: G

Withdraw children from surgical instruments manufacturing, prevent theirentry into surgical instruments manufacturing and provide appropriate rehabilitation, prevention, and protection to the children and families targeted by the programme; Strengthen the capacity of the social partners (employers’ and workers’ organizations) to prevent and progressively eliminate child labour in the surgical instruments industry.


Over a period of two years, the project has contributed to the reduction of child labour in one of the country’s major export industries. Under its direct action programmes, 1,496 children employed in surgical instruments production workshops have been provided non-formal education and pre-vocational training. Attendance in these programmes has resulted in substantially reduced working hours for the children. The education initiative has been complemented with action by the labour groups, particularly the All Pakistan Federation of Trade Unions (APFTU) and the All Pakistan Federation of Labour (APFOL).

They have established contact with the target groups and concerned stakeholders and carried out a number of activities aimed at raising awareness about the child labour problem in the surgical instruments industry, and the need to address it. In view of the lessons learned and experience gained so far, the project has been extended into a second phase. In its second phase, the project has been expanded to cover larger numbers of children. Around 1,200 children, aged 14 years and below, working in the surgical instruments industry in Sialkot district, have been targeted to benefit from the project through the provisions of non-formal education, prevocational training and other support services. The second phase of the project will be completed in June 2006.

Combating Child Labour through Education and Training in the North West Frontier Province (Phase II) Time-frame Duration: 3 years Starting date: September 2002 Donor(s) Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC)

Based in Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in Pakistan, this project successfully combines removal from hazardous work through rehabilitation and skills training for adolescents, with prevention of child labour through the mobilization of teachers and development of curriculum in primary schools. The project currently covers four districts of the NWFP — Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda, and Mardan. The project is well placed to develop effective strategies to combat child labour. It combines both governmental and non-governmental organizations to work in harmony for the cause. The project

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is contributing towards:

Production of skilled manpower; Raising basic educational levels for an intelligent citizenship; Increasing participation and retention of children in schools, particularly girls, during the basic education cycle; Providing a more acceptable educational environment for the age range of affected children.


In the first phase, a step-by-step strategy was developed in which working children first joined rehabilitation centres (RCs). At the RCs, they were either provided skills training or mainstreamed into the educational system. Following a positive evaluation of the first phase, the project was expanded from five to 30 RCs (increasing the target group from 720 to 2,500) and the following components were added: G G

Community involvement in managing the RCs; Providing healthcare facilities for working and formerly working children, and conducting studies on occupational safety and health risks; Training counsellors in vocational guidance and careers advice; preventive health and personal hygiene, and sexual, physical and drug abuse;

Linking skills training more closely to the local labour market by conducting surveys on skills needed and offering access to apprenticeships after skills training; Providing alternative income programmes for families, especially mothers; Mobilizing parents and communities through parent teacher associations (PTAs); Mobilizing policy makers, law enforcement agencies and social partners; Focusing in particular on gender issues by ensuring that 50 per cent in each of the target groups is female.

The project model has generated the interest of donors. DANIDA (Danish International Development Agency) has approved funding for the expansion of project activities to district Swat and lower district. During Phase II, which ran until June 2004, the project successfully achieved the following targets: G G

31 RCs, enrolling 2,285 children, have been established; Teachers’ training manual for RC teachers has been developed and 80 teachers trained in teaching methodologies; Training standards for pre-vocational and vocational training have been developed and implemented in auto engine repair, tailoring and dress making, furniture making, and domestic electric wiring; A total of 532 children have received pre-vocational and vocational training at the Government Technical Training Centre;

A database on the target group of the project has been developed to monitor the children’s progress and keep track of the children; A manual on child labour laws has been developed to sensitize the law enforcement agencies; Manuals on basic health, as well as on occupational safety and health, have been developed for working children and their employers; The concept of evening classes for working children in the formal education system has been approved by the Directorate of Schools and Literacy, GoNWFP, Peshawar.

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Activating Media in Combating Child LabourTime-frame Duration: 2 years Starting date: July 2003 Donor(s) NORAD German Funding Government of Pakistan (Free air time on state-run television and radio channels)

In July 2003, IPEC, together with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and its corporate agencies, Pakistan Television (PTV) and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), launched a two-year project, titled Activating Media in Combating Child Labour. This project aims at undertaking the capacity building of media managers, and national television and radio producers to produce media products such as plays, drama serials, talk shows, discussion fora, and songs and jingles on child labour issues.

A project coordinating committee led by the Secretary of Information, and including representatives of the Ministry of Labour and the National Commission on Child Welfare and Development, the managing director of Pakistan Television, and the general manager of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, has been formed to oversee the project’s activities.

A project creative team has also been constituted for programming. The team includes programme directors from television and radio, and representatives of the Ministries of Labour and Information. The media project is an integrated part of the project of support for the national Time-Bound Programme (TBP) on the worst forms of child labour. Its main role consists of highlighting the concerns about the worst forms of child labour in the media. Various production houses in the private and public sectors are developing media products that will be aired from the last quarter of 2004.

Project of Support for the National Time-Bound Programme (TBP) to Help Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour from Pakistan Time-frame Duration: 4 years Starting date: October 2003 Donor(s) US Department of Labour (USDOL)

In November 2003, IPEC laun