And out of these 1.7 million, around 700,000 bonded child labourers are working in indecent and inhumane conditions
Slavery has not been completely abolished and continues in the worst form of child labour — a blatant violation of basic human rights. Sindh unfortunately is at the forefront of this abuse. Out of the 6.4 million out-of-school children, a staggering 1.7 million are engaged in bonded labour in just this one province alone. And out of these 1.7 million, around 700,000 bonded child labourers are working in indecent and inhumane conditions. It is important to note that these figures are grossly underestimated and the evil practice, which is rampant in the agriculture and industrial sector, shows no signs of abating any time soon.
The Hari Welfare Association claims that children under the age of 15 are exploited, abused and tortured in bangle shops, brick kiln factories, fisheries, auto workshops and cotton and chilli picking sectors in the province, but no concrete efforts are taken to free them. These malnourished children work long hours and live like slaves under the axe of vicious feudal lords and greedy businessmen who use and abuse them for profit. Sindh has enacted various laws to protect the rights of children including the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 2015 and the Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017. Regrettably, lack of implementation coupled with corruption continues to be a major issue. Even though the Sindh Child Protection Authority was formed under the Social Welfare department for this specific purpose, no serious measures have been taken to dismantle such systems of oppression and end child labour in the province. In fact, child labour has increased over the past few years.
The Sindh government has failed its children on multiple fronts. The consequences of their negligence are being faced by these children who have forgotten the concept of freedom. The Sindh government must grow a conscience and instruct the Social Welfare department to team up with the Labour department to implement laws, punish perpetrators and free these bonded child labourers once and for all.