In Karachi, speakers at a seminar urged the government to fully implement ‘Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1992’ in its true spirit.
Recommendations came at a sitting titled ‘National Policy Seminar’ organised by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) in collaboration of Actionaid and European Union at a local hotel on Wednesday.
Parliamentarians and people from all walks of life attended the seminar. Various forms of bonded labour including agriculture, fisheries, brick kiln and weaving industries came under discussion.
Participants recommended that the Bonded Labour Abolition Act 1992 should be adopted with amendments to make it practical law, national policy and plan.
They suggested formation of provincial steering committee on bonded labour to oversee implementation of law and policy. Registration of brick kiln should be made mandatory and issuance of social security cards should also be made mandatory.
They urged extension of labour laws to agriculture sector including right to association. They demanded high level provincial commission on formulation of a plan for structural changes i.e land reforms. Speakers recommended that notification of minimum wages should be issued. Besides, they demanded, restoration of Sindh Bonded Labour Department which was existed before the 18th amendment. Sindh’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sikandar Mehndhro said we can resolve these issues with step by step. He said around 2.5 million people lived on fishing as livelihood and they were facing problems like bonded labour. Contract system had violated their livelihood but Pakistan Peoples’ Party abolished the contract system through legislation and only fishermen could do fishing legally, he added.
MQM MPA Irum Azeem Farouqi said they constituted the laws but none of them were implemented. “Nothing would be changed unless there is an end to feudal system,” she said.
She said that bonded labour was not limited to rural areas alone but feudal lords living in the urban areas of the province had also handicapped the children for work at their houses.
PPP MPA Sharmila Faruqi said that it was need of the hour to take all stakeholders on board in Sindh and then form the draft for legislation.
Anis Jillani, civil society activist, said around 10 million Pakistanis sacrifice animals of worth Rs20,000 each or a total of Rs2 trillion every year on Sacrificial Eid but they could change life of one person with Rs20,000.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Chairman Mohammad Ali Shah said that fisheries was also a sector where bonded labour was in abundant where investors of boats forced fishing workers to work at their boats only. Shahjahan Baloch, Sindh head of Actionaid International, said it was responsibility of the state to provide justice to its people but unfortunately it was the government that was violating basic rights of its people.
In Lahore, Child Rights Movement (CRM) urged the Punjab government for establishing the Punjab Commission on the Rights of the Child (PCRC) by enacting the law and prioritising and funding for the child rights.
The CRM also urged the government to enact the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2013, the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill and implement the Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2012 Punjab, the Punjab Protection of Breast-feeding Child Nutrition (Amendment) Act 2012, the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000.
The CRM organised a programme on the occasion of “Universal Children’s Day” at SOS Village Lahore.
Provincial Minister for Education Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan endorsed the demands of CRM and ensured that the Punjab government would take all the administrative and legislative measure to protect children.
Separately, SANJOG Pakistan arranged a walk outside the Lahore Press Club to raise awareness regarding the rights of children.
Addressing the gathering the SANJOG President said to highlight the rights of the children on Universal Children’s Day who constitute 49 percent of the population is very important.
Courtesy The NATION