Impact of Crisis on Child Labour
“Children are our future”. We hear this a lot. But, isn’t our future doomed with hundreds of millions of children, all around the globe, are forced to partake in work that deprives them of education, healthy, and other activities, violating their rights? About 152 million children work as child labourers. Many of these children are engaged in work that is dangerous to their health; mental and physical. Forced labour and engaging children in activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution is becoming a rising concern for many nations.
Every year, on June 12, the World Day Against Child Labour is observed with the aim to bring attention to this global problem and make efforts to thwart it. Governments, employees, civil societies come together every year to highlight the unfortunate situation of child labourers across the world and what can be done to help them.
History of Child Labour:
Child labour has always existed. Evidence in history can be found of it; in all sectors- be it agriculture, factories or domestic tasks in the family settings. In the middle ages, young kids started to work outside their family as they were readily employed because they were the low-cost workforce. In order for them and their families to survive, boys started to do field jobs and girls worked as servants. Education was only available to children from privileged backgrounds.
This only worsened after the industrial revolution, and children were hired to work in textile industries, mines and construction sites. Even today, millions of children work to support their families and look after themselves too.
COVID-19 and Child Labour:
The World Day Against Child Labour 2020 focuses on the impact of the crisis on child labour and COVID-19 is so far turning out to be the biggest crisis for humanity. Coronavirus has had severe impacts on economic and labour market and thus, people’s livelihood. Millions of children are forced to work now to survive. The 152 million children already working are now also at a greater risk to work in circumstances that are much more difficult than more, with longer working hours too.
This year, virtual campaigns are being held by Global March Against Child Labour and the International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture. A study on the impact of COVID-19 on child labour practices is to be released on 12 June too, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on child labour.
Child Labour in Pakistan:
Many children in Pakistan aren’t lucky enough to enjoy their childhood and are being forced to work under inhumane circumstances to keep a roof over their heads and get food in their bellies. South Asia has an alarmingly high rate of child labour and children here are exploited for cheap labour. Authorities in Pakistan have failed in implementing the laws against childhood and every day, the number of child labourers rises. An estimate of 19 million children below the age of 14 engages in child labour, many of whom are subjected to sexual and emotional abuse. We need to come up with a solution for eradicating child labour quickly if we want to save our future.
Child labour is rampant in developing countries but developed countries aren’t free from it too. Active efforts need to be made by national governments to stop the inhumane practices of child labour. Authorities need to ensure that child labour laws are not violated and social protection systems should be made for young children. Furthermore, free, quality public education needs to be available in all countries so children can get their basic right to education. Children are our future, it’s as simple as that!