The Star-crossed Children
How priceless are relaxing Sunday mornings for children enjoying the bounties of a day with no school related work? No child would ever like imagining a life without Sundays, but all kids are not lucky to experience a dawn that does not bring getting up early to go engage in work and no dusk makes them tired of playing and excited for the first working day of the week. From Karachi to Quetta we have children who have no time for the innocent playful deeds vexing tired moms; they are the children working for ten hours or more as Chaiwalas, Panwalas, puncture shop’s Chotu, carpet weavers, plumbers, electricians, the domestic servants and the list goes on… Each of them is demeaned, discredited and made to believe being child of a lesser God. The numbers of children occupied in child labor are undetected while the most valuable of Pakistan keep on missing proper wages, enough food and any rest.
When these ‘Salaos’ open their eyes in unhygienic hospitals their parents do not wish them to become an engineer or a doctor rather they hope their child grows enough sooner to fit as a new earning hand for the financially downtrodden family. The dreams that cannot be afforded are considered nightmares for the just born child. Poverty coupled with lack of social security and everyday hiking inflation are the fuel that set the child ablaze in the fire of child labor.The problem is worse in rural areas where parents leave their children in the castles of the feuds who cage these birds who are too little to know their flight. Their wings are clipped rather cut, they are expected to finish the assigned tasks earlier then the elders and humiliated upon disappointing their masters. they are made subject to vigorous beatings and are expected to tolerate every violence, in worse cases they are sexually abused by the masters or the co-workers, made subject to psychological torture followed with years of exile away from their parents who cannot afford their daily bread or give them in in exchange for a loan. those who fall prey to cold masters become chilling headlines of newspaper’s front pages reporting inhumane acts like the one reported on 3rd November,2018 , ” eleven year old domestic helper strangled to death.”
With 12.5 million children stuck in the vicious web of this forced labor, the state has broken two promises made by the constitution with each child whose identity is labeled ‘Pakistani’. the first promise broken is the one ensured by Article 11(3) of the constitution that ensures safety against child employment. The second promise shattered is of Article 25 (a) that ensures free education, at least till primary level for each national and further no rights assured.
The clock will not stop ticking and bring Pakistan on the verge of destruction if due and timely attention is not paid to better the condition of the nation builders. The solution lies no in turning a blind eye towards the mistreatment but in poverty alleviation, education for all, strong legislative net, political will and awareness campaigns. The time is now ripe that we must rescue the soul of our progress from he lethal and hazardous occupations that have restrained their growth. May the Almighty protect every child on this earth from the epidemic of child labor that stunts and chokes the younglings for whom everyone prays to fly higher.