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July 19, 2017

Call to check violenceagainst domestic workers

 
July 19, 2017

LAHORE: An NGO working for child rights has expressed concern over brutal violence against domestic workers and demanded legislative measures to prohibit child domestic labour in the province.

Addressing a press conference held in Lahore Press Club, an NGO's provincial coordinator Rashida Qureshi showed serious concern over recent brutal murder of child domestic worker who was working in the home of an MPA and demanded that police must complete the investigation on time and on merit to bring the culprits behind the bars to ensure victim’s family access to justice.

She also demanded legislation to ensure prohibition of child domestic labour. She said it is also a matter of concern for child rights movement that decision makers and legislators are employing children to work as domestic servant.

Another activist Iftikhar Mubarik said Pakistan is obligated to meet its international obligations under United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) which stress on taking effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. 

He said the incidents of brutal violence and even beaten until death reported in media is enough evidence to prove that child domestic labour falls in the category of worst form of child labour and thus must be prohibited by law as existing laws introduced by the Punjab government in 2016 have not its jurisdiction to deal with the issues of child domestic child labour.

He added that UN Committee on the Rights of Child in its concluding observations issued in June 2016 on Pakistan’s 5th periodic report to UNCRC showed serious concern over reports of abuse and torture of working children, including child domestic workers, which, in some cases, led to the death of children, mainly girls.

The committee urged the state party to develop programmes and mechanisms to identify and protect child victims of forced labour, particularly bonded labour as well as child labour in informal sector, including domestic workers.

Human Rights defender Tanveer Jahan said that article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees free and compulsory education for every child between the age of 5 to 16 years and the Punjab government had also enacted “The Punjab Free & Compulsory Education Act 2014” to reaffirm the Constitutional provision.

He said education is the basic right of every child and children who are engaged in child labour in general and child domestic labour in particular could not be excluded to ensure provision of this Constitutional right. He stressed that culture of silence on violations of children’s rights must end now.

Legal expert Ahmar Majeed raised serious question of legislation introduced to deal the issue of child labour in brick kilns and in other occupations by saying that there are discrepancies on the age of child which is 14-year in “The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labour at Brick Kilns Act 2016” and 15-year in “The Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children 2016” while in the law dealing with education of children is defining a child any person up to 16 years of age. 

Skills training: Provincial Minister for Industries, Commerce and Trade Sheikh Alla-ud-Din has said the Punjab government is smoothly accomplishing its "two-million skilled people programme."

TEVTA, PVTC and PSDF are the major stakeholders and training providers, he said, adding that 55,000 people had completed their training in 2016-17. He said the government was achieving the targets but there was a dire need to institutionalise the system for continuity in the programme which would further produce positive results.

For this purpose, a committee has been constituted on the directions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and in collaboration with almost all the provincial departments to have their maximum input and to have first-hand information.