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Child Labor - Cheaper to run than tractors & Smarter than oxen!

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    Child Labor - Cheaper to run than tractors & Smarter than oxen!

    "Children are cheaper to run than tractors and smarter than oxen," ----> explains one Rawalpindi landowner. He prefers field hands between seven and ten years old, "because they have the most energy, although they lack discipline".

    WARNING: You are about to witness a sale of a young child called Nadeem into bonded labor! Those who do not give a hoot may exit now. This is not fantasy or fiction; this is reality for the very poor, not only in Pakistan but also India, Nepal, B-Desh and elsewhere! Shed a tear not only for Nadeem but also for his parent - victims of poverty & ignorance but above all shed a tear for the system that continues to fail them.

    To be sure, child labor is an institution throughout the Third World. But few countries have done less to abolish or to contain the practice than Pakistan. And fewer still have a ruling class that opposes workplace reform and human-rights initiatives as vigorously. Given its relative prosperity, its constitutional prohibition against child labor, and its leaders' signatures on every UN human- and child-rights convention, Pakistan's de facto dependency on child labor is troubling and to its critics inexcusable.

    No two negotiations for the sale of a child are alike, but all are founded on the pretense that the parties involved have the best interests of the child at heart. On this sweltering morning in the Punjab village of Wasan Pura a carpet master, Sadique, is describing for a thirty-year-old brick worker named Mirza the advantages his son will enjoy as an apprentice weaver.

    Sadique has given this speech before. Like many manufacturers, he recruits children for his workshop almost constantly, and is particularly aggressive in courting boys aged seven to ten. "They make ideal employees," he says. "Boys at this stage of development are at the peak of their dexterity and endurance, and they're wonderfully obedient--they'd work around the clock if I asked them."

    Having dispensed with the niceties, Sadique offers Mirza 5,000 rupees ($146) for five years of his son's labor. It's a paltry sum--roughly two months' earnings for an adult weaver. Mirza was expecting an offer at least three times as high. "Business is off this year," Sadique says, by way of pre-empting Mirza's objections. "When things improve, I may be able to give you another two or three hundred. Many fathers would be glad to get half this amount."

    Mirza is distressed. He is a small man, stooped and wasted from his years at the kiln, his skin and tunic flecked with soot. Like most laborers, he is acutely aware of his caste, and in the presence of those whom he deems his betters is deferential to the point of abjectness. Bravely he asks Sadique for another thousand rupees, though he couches the request in the most self-deprecating terms he knows. "Sir, my family's survival depends on your charity. You will always be remembered in our prayers as our saviour from beggary and destitution." To his relief, Sadique agrees at once, extending a manicured hand with a speed that suggests he was prepared to pay more and got a bargain. In any event, he can afford to be generous. The money he offers Mirza, called a peshgi, will be paid in installments, and he will deduct from it all costs associated with Nadeem's maintenance and training. Many of the deductions are contrived and inflated. Parents are charged for their children's food and tools, the raw materials they use, the errors they make, the amount of time the master spends "educating" them. Throughout Pakistan parents consider themselves fortunate if at the end of their child's service the master has paid them one third of the peshgi.

    Mirza is unaware of these deductions and, eager to make his escape, does not ask questions that might complicate the proceedings. He consummates the deal by shaking Sadique's hand (after wiping his own on his tunic) and accepting from him a first instalment of 200 rupees. The parties are bound only by their word: no contracts are signed; no witnesses are present. "Your boy now belongs to me," Sadique says as Mirza pockets the banknotes. "Please understand that so long as he works under my roof he is answerable only to me. Inform him that the needs of my shop take priority over those of his family, and he must do all he can to please me. If he does not, we will all be disappointed, him most of all." Mirza thanks the master for his kindness, bows low, and runs off to relay this information to his son.

    An Inexhaustible Labor Pool
    CHILD labor has assumed epidemic proportions in Pakistan. Statistics are unreliable, but the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) last year estimated the number of Pakistani working children to be "realistically in the region of 11-12 million." At least half these children are under the age of ten.

    To read more, pls visit:

    Face up thanks for the article Ė Weíve discussed child/bound labour on this board several times before, and I understand that this is very sensitive problem, therefore to avoid senseless replies could you please be more specific on what you wanted to discuss?

    There are many ways to look at it, as your article says Pak is just another country with child labour problem, and we have it for some reasons. Western world is shouting about it coz they have reasons Ė we as Pakistanis have different kind of responsibilities, if we join the world and criticize child labour this will most probably result in ban on our products, our carpets are already banned in some countries. This will in no way help our situation, right. I think majority of our ppl agree upon it being a serious problem and Iím sure most will agree that we need to solve this, so the next step should be that we try to find a solution for this, in stead of, as said before criticizing, coz thatíll only hurt our image and our children.


      Sabah, i agree entirely. I get fed up of people using issues like these for sensational purposes with out providing any answers. I don't think anybody is happy to see child labour, but in countries that are too poor to have a welfare system it is hardly surprising. In the 'Slavery in India' thread there were similar 'outraged' sentiments but when I asked:

      'What would be the reasons that in both India and Pakistan, successive govts have failed to address this issue?'

      Nobody could think of any answers. I am assuming that if adults were employed labour costs would still be low enough to make our goods competitive.


        my dear sabah,

        THank you for pointing to me that this issue has been discussed before.

        You're concerned that it may generate 'senseless' replies.

        And, you inquire - exactly what I wish to discuss with this thread?

        My dear sabah,
        Thank you for your concerns. What I have posted will suffice for now!

        However, I'll make one rebuttal to a point raised by you and that is Pakistan is NOT just one of the many countries with problem of child labor; Pakistan is one of the very few countries that have done HARDLY anything to address this issue.

        Pak has turned a blind eye to:
        child labor or,
        child bonded labor or,
        child slavery and,
        that should be very CLEAR from the message of the thread.

        Has this been discussed and pointed out before as well?.


          Well i really don't see the issue behind the article.
          It was written in 1996.
          The issue is not being dealt with, in BOTH pakistan and india.
          It is a thing every third world country faces.
          Give it a rest, we have discussed this to death already!!

          You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!


            >> However, I'll make one rebuttal to a point raised by you and that is Pakistan is NOT just one of the many countries with problem of child labor; Pakistan is one of the very few countries that have done HARDLY anything to address this issue.
            Pak has turned a blind eye to:
            child labor or,
            child bonded labor or,
            child slavery and,
            that should be very CLEAR from the message of the thread.
            Has this been discussed and pointed out before as well?.<<

            Face up, you can hardly come up anything on this issue that hasnít been discussed before, but that doesnít mean that we canít discuss it again, hopefully weíll learn something new. What I was trying to say was that you might not find anyone on this board who justifies these criminal acts and criticizing Pak for the heck of it will not solve any problem either. So as we on this board agree that this problem exists and itís bad, what next? Please donít misunderstand me, Iím not trying to irritate you but having read some of you other posts, Iím sure you must have had something in mind when you posted this, and Iím sure youíre too smart to assume that educated ppl on this board would disagree with you in saying that Pak has this problem. What can be done to combat this problem in Pak?

            What should Pak have done, given our economical situation and social set up? Can we on individual level do anything to help these kids? The fact that child labour exists in other parts of the world shouldnít hold us back Ė but what are our options, seriously?


              Dear CM,

              Could you provide me with the names of the thread highlighting Child Labor discussed at GupShup;
              post a link to those threads. I am curious to read what was said & discussed!



                Dear sabah & CM

                I took a quick see at the previous discussions on the topic of Child labor and, I can see that your concerns are justified!

                The earlier discussions did state that both:
                Child Labor for age under 14 and,
                Bonded Labor for landless farmers (haris)are illegal but lacking is desire & determination on part of authorities to enforce it.

                My future comments will be directed at Child Labor and where we stand vis-a-vis Pakistan.
                The matter of Bonder Labor (haris) have been axhaustively discussed here at GupShup and there is, in all likelihood, nothing to gain from rehashing the issue again. But it is an open issue and nothing to be proud about.

                Personally, IMHO, we shouldn't get so hung up about the country's image when these stark social issues are for all to see.

                Finally, sabah, you were right in your original assessment and I stand corrected!