By Sahibzada Mayed Ali Khan
What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the term child labour? You would probably think, ” Haye! Woh becharey bache!” or “zulm hai“, but have you ever actually tried to do something about it? Probably not.
Have you ever wondered who really makes all those clothes you love wearing every day? Of course, we all love a good shop- a major chunk of the income probably goes in to the latest high street labels. Although, this new top that you have bought may look good hanging in the wardrobe, would you be so chuffed if you were to know who made it? You may think that having to empty the dishwasher, tidying up your room, or having to mow the lawn for your pocket money is an arduous task, but trust me it’s not. Well then, what are your thoughts about working 12 hours a day in a crummy factory just for a few hundred rupees or maybe not even that, in some scenarios?
It is very easy to quote statistics that “over 12.5 million children in Pakistan are a victim of child labour”; or to say, as according to a recent statement, that “this staggering number requires immediate action by the federal and provincial governments.”
We constantly hear about everyone working to bring about a change, mostly by stating their opinions through actions, however, making such statements while sipping earl grey in a chinaware teacup is no better than being a factory owner promoting child labour.
Despite claims of being a progressive nation, we overlook the fact that the change lies in our own hands. However, it is up to us whether we use this power or focus on producing heartless machines for generations to come.
Child labour not only hurts the child physically, it also leaves lasting mental scars. Later in life, the child comes to believe that such working conditions are the norm. Therefore, he is forced to accept them as reality and that is where the society fails to play its part.
Many would argue that it was not their fault if the children are being forced to work at factories; but there is another side to the picture, in which these children are working for us at our houses doing works which I would call equivalent to slavery.
Our heart beats for the child labourer, but we employ another child for our own comfort, denying him basic rights just like the factory owners.
For this, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It is we who allow it to even happen by behaving passively. In a matter of all honesty, you can’t give that 8-year-old boy his childhood back but at least give him his future, give him a chance at creating his own reality rather than being an arbitrator of his fate.