Child labour statistics paint a grim picture
On a busy road of Jamshed Town, Atif, a 10-year-old boy, wipes off the sweat trickling down his forehead as he carefully removes the paint from the bodies of old cars. He works without respite from seven in the morning till eight at night for a meagre Rs34.
“I have to skip breakfast but my boss provides me with lunch during the day.” Atif is the eldest of his family of five which consists of a widow and her four children. “My father, a factory worker, died in an accident at work. I am the eldest and so it is my duty to run the house,” he says.
His mother works as a domestic servant and together they are able to pay the rent of the house and feed the family. “The recent price hike has been a big hurdle for us. I wish I could get two jobs but this one takes up all the time”. He talks like a grown man.
According to a survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Statistics, about 3.3 million of the 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are economically active on a full-time basis. The survey also claims that the work done by children in rural areas is about eight times greater than in urban centres and that there are four times as many economically active children between the ages of 10 and 14 than there are between the ages of five and nine.
In Pakistan, there are, on average, six unemployed people for every employed person, a fact that has played a pivotal role in the spread of child labour across the country. “This is not a job, this is slavery — pure slavery,” says Manzoor Sheikh, a professor of Sociology at a local university. “This is a vicious and hidden cancer in our society. These children are supposed to be playing with footballs, not stitching them,“ he said.
An international sportswear company was caught using child labour when it employed more than 200 Pakistani children for the manufacture of footballs. Some of these children were four or five years old.
In its June 1996 issue, Life magazine published an article about child labour in Pakistan. The article featured a photograph which showed Tariq, age 12, surrounded by the pieces of a football that he would then spend most of his day stitching together for a measly 60 cents. In a matter of weeks, activists all across Canada and the US were protesting in front of the international firm’s outlets, holding up photos of Tariq.
Nike chairman, Phil Knight, was forced to publicly acknowledge that a shipment of footballs that Nike had purchased in Pakistan had been made by a sub-contractor that used child labour in ‘horrible conditions’. the news
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