Child labour in Pakistan

Child labour in Pakistan

This article discusses the situation of child labour in Pakistan.


Child Labor In Pakistan

There is a need for eliminating child labor in Pakistan. Child labor and child trafficking negatively affect human capital development and the overall national development agenda. When children do not go to school they are denied the knowledge and skills needed for national development.[1] Educating children, rather than forcing them to work, could yield enormous economic benefits for developing nations, through increased productivity and human capital. Benefits of education however large, may not be enough to convince poverty struck families to stop sending children to work as the concern over household survival outweighs that of children’s future earnings, therefore this is the problem that Pakistan faces today.[2]

Situation of Child Labor In Pakistan

Pakistan has a per-capita income of approximately $1900. A middle class person in Pakistan earns around $5 a day on average.The average Pakistani has to feed nine or ten people with their daily wage. Further to that there is also the high inflation rate to contend with.[3] As of 2008, 17.2% of the total population lives below the poverty line, which is the lowest figure in the history of Pakistan.[4] Poverty levels in Pakistan appear to necessitate that children work in order to allow families to reach their target take‐home pay.[5] On the side of the firms, the low cost of child labor gave manufacturers a significant advantage in the Western marketplace, where they undersell their competitors from countries prohibiting child labor, often by improbable amounts.[6]

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated in the 1990s that 11 million children were working in the country, half of those under the age of ten. In 1996, the median age for a child entering the work force was seven, down from eight years old 2 years prior. It was estimated that one quarter of the countries work force was made up of child laborers.[7] As of 2005–2006, it is estimated that 37 per cent of working boys were employed in the wholesale and retail industry in urban areas, followed by 22 per cent in the service industry and 22 per cent in manufacturing. As for the girls 48 per cent were employed in the service industry while 39 per cent were employed in manufacturing. In rural areas, 68 per cent of working boys were joined by 82 per cent of working girls. In the wholesale and retail industry the percentage of girl were 11 per cent followed by 11 per cent in manufacturing.[8]

Child labor in Pakistan is perhaps most rampant in a north-western province called Sialkot, near the border with Kashmir, which is an important production centre for exports goods such as sporting goods.[9] Thousands of Pakistani children, many under the age of 10, get less than 10p an hour stitching soccer balls for export around the world. About three-quarters of all the high-quality footballs used in international competitions are made here[10] where child labour is perhaps the most rampant(In 1994, it pumped the equivalent of $385 million into the Pakistan economy) . [11]

Government Policies on Child Labour

A number of laws contain provisions prohibiting child labour or regulating the working conditions of child and adolescent workers. The most important laws are: The Factories Act 1934. The West Pakistan Shops and Establishments Ordinance 1969. The Employment of Children Act 1991 The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act 1992. The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994[12]

Child labor remains one of the major problems afflicting Pakistan and its children. Pakistan has passed laws in an attempt to limit child labor and indentured servitude—but those laws are universally ignored, and some 11 million children, aged four to fourteen, keep that country's factories operating, often working in brutal and squalid conditions.[13]

Efforts to reduce child labour

NGO groups against child labor have been raising awareness of the exploitation of children in Pakistan.[14] .

Child Labour in Pakistan - Football Stitching

By the late 1990s, Pakistan had come to account for 75 percent of total world production of soccer balls (or “footballs,” as they are known in most countries), and 71 percent of all soccer ball imports into the United States. The International Labor Rights Forum and allies called attention to rampant child labor in the soccer ball industry. According to investigations, thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 14 were putting in as many as 10 to 11 hours per day stitching.[15]. Then, the International Labor Organization, UNICEF, Save the Children, and the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed the Partners' Agreement to Eliminate Child Labor in the Soccer Industry in Pakistan on February 14, 1997 in Atlanta, Georgia.[16] .

Save the Children

Save the Children has also been working with some of the sporting goods manufacturers represented by the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and their international partner brands, represented by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI). This joint effort is aimed at ensuring that children are not employed to stitch footballs[17]. Save the Children (UK) includes disseminating information about child labour on major networks like CBS and the like.[18]

Save the Children has also worked on project with the British Secretary of State for International Development to phase out child labour in Sialkot. The £750,000 donated by Britain will be spent on education and training, and also on setting up credit and savings schemes in an attempt to provide alternatives to bonded labour.[19].


SPARC has conducted research that goes into producing its publications, including three major books on child labor, juvenile justice and child rights. Its annual report The State of Pakistan’s Children and a large number of brochures, SPARC has conducted a number of research studies[20]. SPARC has continued to ask successive governments to upgrade their laws to set a legal age limit for employment in Pakistan, although they have not been successful in doing so.[21] .

Other NGOs

Other NGOs that has worked on the issue of child labor in Pakistan includes organisation such as UNICEF [22] . UNICEF supported the NCCWD in drafting of the Child Protection Law and the Child Protection Policy and initiated the establishment of Child Protection Monitoring and Data Collecting System.Many other NGO such as ROZAN has work to protect the child in NGO[23] .SPARC is a NGO.


  1. ^ "Child Labor Affect Human Capital Development". Ghana News Agency. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Madslien, Jorn (4 February 2004). "ILO: 'Child labour prevents development'". BBC News. Retrieved 23 Feb 2011. 
  3. ^ "Child Labor in Pakistan". Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "UNDP Reports Pakistan Poverty Declined to 17%, Under Musharraf". Pakistan Daily. Retrieved 23 Feb 2011. 
  5. ^ S. Denice, Doreen. "Towards the Eradication of Child Labor in Pakistan". The Fletcher School Online Journal. 
  6. ^ Silvers, Jonathan. "Child Labor in Pakistan". The Atlantic. 
  7. ^ "Child Labor in Pakistan". Fair Trade Sports. 
  8. ^ Xiaohui, Hou (2010). Wealth: Crucial but Not Sufficient - Evidence from Pakistan on Economic Growth, Child Labour and Schooling. 
  9. ^ "Pakistan". Save the children. 
  10. ^ "Short kicks off Pakistan child labour project". BBC News. Oct 29 1997. 
  11. ^ "Nike". scribd. Retrieved 22 Feb 2011. 
  12. ^ Madslien, Jorn (4 February 2004). "ILO: 'Child labour prevents development'". BBC News. Retrieved 23 Feb 2011. 
  13. ^ "Child Labour affect Human Capital Development - Chief Justice". Ghana News Agency. 
  14. ^ "Sub Group on Child Labor". Child Rights Information Network. 
  15. ^ "Stop Child And Forced Labor". International Labor Rights Forum. Retrieved Feb 2011. 
  16. ^ "Atlanta Agreement". Retrieved Feb 2011. 
  17. ^ Husselbee, David (2000). NGOs as development partners to the corporates: Child football Stichers in Pakistan. pp. 377–389. 
  18. ^ A Dark Side of Institutional Entrepreneurship: Soccer Balls, Child Laboour and Postcolonial Impoverishment. 2007. 
  19. ^ "Pakistan Flood 2010 - Six Months On". Save the Children.$File/full_report.pdf. 
  20. ^ "Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Pakistan". Childwatch International Research Network. 
  21. ^ Denice, Doreen. "Towards the Eradication of Child Labor in Pakistan". The Fletcher School Online Journal.. 
  22. ^ Silvers, Jonathan. "Child Labor in Pakistan". The Atlantic. 
  23. ^ "Child Protection". UNICEF. 

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