“I Am Not The Future” – Chota Says

(Saba jalil, Karachi-KHI)

“Chotay! Pani lao?” Chotay! Yeh Kaam Kardo!” We heard these types of statements in our surroundings regularly. Are we shaping our future in a correct way or become so insensitive that we don’t even realize right or wrong and portray so-called COOL CULTURE by employing minor for our chores in different areas?

Isn’t child a beautiful creature on earth? Ask those couples who are struggling to have ones. But unfortunately, these tiny flowers are now suffering from devastating child labor or abuse rather than getting an education to have a bright future. Forcing these delicate creatures to work in an unhealthy environment slows their mental development and cause premature aging, depression, insomnia, and other personality disorders.

“Child labor fueled by the rich taking advantage of the circumstances of the poor.”

Hiring a minor is a system of exploitation which unfortunately prevails in our Upper Class / Upper Middle-Class Society, particularly. Our celebrities, politicians, and organizations always speak against child labor but still hire children for their work at low rates. Does humanity exist? Is it fine to hire a “CHOTA” for something your “CHOTA (KID)” can’t do?

As per Federal Bureau of statistics, out of 40 million children in Pakistan, 3.8 million (Age 5 - 14 years) are suffering from child labor in Pakistan. 53% male and 46% female children are working in our country rather than getting an education. This evil act has severely victimized the children of rural areas in Pakistan. In the village, 25% of children go to school, whereas, 75% is performing labor in different areas. Above 1.8 million children are not attending school and involved in labor work. These little stars have lost their smiles while working hard to feed them and their families.

This cruel reality of child labor hits me every time I see small angels at mechanic shops, as a waste collector, working on streets, factories, at restaurants and hotels, brick kilns and as a domestic helper in households to support their family instead of enjoying their childhood. These “CHOTA” is actually doing BIG efforts for their families. It is indeed heartbreaking to see the future of Pakistan suffering from different tragedies.

We came across different child abuse stories on social media often like #JusticeForUzma, #Tayyaba, #Jamila, #KasurIncident, #ShaziaMasih, etc. Iqbal Masih, a major example of being a hero to escape from child slavery at the age of 12. He raised voice against child labor and became an icon internationally. He saved the lives of 3000 children from child slavery or labor. But, still millions of our children are the victim of this menace, in spite of having child protection laws. This problem has given rise to many serious issues in Pakistan like children kidnapping, beggary, and human trafficking. In fact, these children opt for professions like criminals and robbers. Whose fault in it?

“Child Labor Demand is increasing day by day in our beloved Pakistan”

Is There Any Law Or Rule To Save A Child?

Yes, there are. The Article 11 and Article 25-A of the Constitution are based on child protection laws. In prior years, the Sindh government has passed the PECA (Prohibition of Employment of Children Act). It’s true and we admit that the child labor issue is associated with desperate poverty, but this can’t escape government to not make laws for the protection of child labor. High inflation rates, low literacy rates, low job opportunities, and failure of government laws / policies are other sad reasons. As a nation, it is our responsibility if we see any activity exploiting children or encouraging child labor, we should lodge a complaint at police station or designated portals to ensure safety of Pakistan’s Future. We as a society need to HAWW-HAYEE these vain people who are a part of child labor.

Call-To-Action

Children are like flowers in a garden. It’s up to us what kind of care we give them to bloom positively. To curb this cruel act, it is essential to create awareness at the community and household level and make strict implementation of applicable policies to protect the shining future of Pakistan. The government & public both should work collectively to eradicate this violation of children from our country. There must be schools and proper funds should be allotted for the children who can’t afford their studies. Like TCF, #FixitSchool, where children, who want to study, are getting education. At the community level, the ones who can afford must take the pledge to fund education of one child to save his/her future. Hire a child for play time and in return, fund his schooling and give him pocket money so that “CHOTA” can study independently. For those who are needy, provide them with education in their work place so that they earn and get an education simultaneously.

We must understand that if this issue prevails and children continue to do work instead of getting an education then there will be no bright future of Pakistan because “The Nation’s Foundation Is Based On Its Youth’s Education”. It is their foremost right to get an education and make their future bright, as it will, in return, benefit PAKISTAN.

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