William Words Worth, English romantic poet, once uttered, “Child is a man of father”. William Black, English classical and mystic poet also wrote in his Song of Innocence, “child is a mighty prophet.” In his poetry children’s innocent and miserable life has been discussed. He depicted life of poor children whose parents had no choice to keep innocent children safe, but to leave them on the mercy of God.
In eighteenth and nineteenth centuries fathers (who supposedly were responsible for the families in patriarchal societies) used to sell their kids to earn bread and butter for themselves and for rest of the family. History tells that hard labour was part of sold out children’s lives; while they were so tender in ages even could not speak properly. They used to burn their hands while working in chimneys as sweepers. A large number of works in which children got to engage made their lives miserable and snatched their right to enjoy childhood.
On the other hand, children from rich families were living happy lives with all luxuries available to them. They had plenty choices for food, dresses etc. Whatever they desired got in no time. They had given good knowledge by the famous pedagogues available at that time. But same society continued exploitation of poor children. Few of the people with conscience decided to use the power of pen against this brutality going in society by exploiting these children. For example Rousseau had written several pamphlets for promotion of child education. In his famous essay “Emile” he explained how to educate a child. His writings helped transformed the mindset of society. That way poor children got an opportunity to get education by society. Because Europeans realized the fact that “child is a father of man”. Thus they found it essential to educate children for future.
Unfortunately European societies adopted a positive approach ages back but exploitation of poor children is still going on in third world countries. Pakistan falls in same category, where children are leading miserable lives. The child labour is very common phenomenon. Strangulating economy has forced poor fathers to sell their children so they could get money to run life’s cycle. poverty has thrown them in deep dark wells where they have no options left.
The large number of children are working in different factories on meager wages that hardly matches with international standards. 7.5 million children are working throughout country in different fields. According to an ILO (2004) report, more than 264,000 children are being destroyed in domestic labour in Pakistan. Parents of the working children usually have large families to feed; thus these working children are additional earning sources for families.
Unfortunately domestic child laborers are also subjected to various kinds of abuses such as sexual, verbal, physical or harassment. Girl labourers are being abused by the male members of employer families; sometimes rape or sometimes only harassment. Biggest misfortune with these girls is; they can not disclose these brutalities being waged to them as to they had fears of being kicked out of jobs.
Pakistan has laws against child labor and agencies are working to curb this menace but still the figure are so high and the government’s role is questionable in this regard. In fact, Pakistan is a signatory of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Convention’s article 4 declares,
“States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention.”
Another misfortune; there is no concept of implementation of law in Pakistan. On the contrary, civil societies have taken some initiatives against child labour and other exploitations. There are several International and national NGOs which are working for the rights of children. Some organizations are providing free education as well as food to marginalized children in remote areas of the county. Civil society is playing surrogates parents for these children, also few of the foster children cases have also been witnessed.
Child labour is very sensitive issue in our society. There is a dire need to pay attention to this issue on immediate basis and eradicate this cruel actions of society. Let’s cooperate with civil society which is working for Pakistani children. This is also our responsibility to give good socialization to our children, because child is a father of man.