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PESHAWAR: The Global Slavery Index has ranked Pakistan 6th out of 167 countries as 2,134,900 people are estimated living in modern slavery in the country.
The details of the Global Slavery Index were discussed at a provincial consultation titled “Abolishing Bonded Labour” organized by the Democracy Reporting International at a hotel here.
Giving a broader overview on the issue of bonded labor in Pakistan, Muhammad Rafique of the Democracy Reporting International told the participants that as per the Global Slavery Index, 60 percent of the labor force is vulnerable to modern slavery in Pakistan in different sectors including agriculture, brick-kiln, carpet weaving, mining, and others.
He said that among the main resources behind the prevalence of the bonded labor, economic factor is 2 percent, unemployment 5.9 percent, poverty 39 percent and agriculture is 40 percent.
However, he said that lack of human development in Pakistan is the main issue for bonded labor as in the Human Development Index, Pakistan has become the lowest country in South Asia and ranked 146th.
He said that the other factors are social factors and lack of education, health and other basic amenities to people.
“Unfortunately, there is no well documented research-based study of the bonded labor in the country, through which the issue can be addressed,” Director National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) Khyzar Hayat Khan told the participants.
He also said that like in the past, now he did not see the enthusiasm among the rights activists to take up the issue.
He revealed the provinces also have no actual data of cases of the bonded labor, which also showed the lack of interest of the governments toward the issue.
Raza Asad, a coordinator for the NCHR, said that Pakistan’s laws for an abolition of the bonded labor were also week as compared to other countries, including Nepal, where rehabilitation of the bonded labor is also the state responsibility.
Irfanullah Khan, director Labour Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the provincial government has recently launched the first Child Labour Policy 2018 of the province, through which the child labor in the province would be curbed.
He said that through the policy, a Central Referral Mechanism would be established to discourage the issue of bonded labor. Besides, he said the department is going to take strict action against child labor.
Irfanullah Khan said that the advance money system to laborers of brick-kiln by the owners and labor force in agriculture often leads the labors towards slavery.
Liaqat Bacha of Muttahida Labour Federation said that the issue of bonded labor is increasing in the country and province due to the existing weak laws and its non-implementation.
He said the government had failed to implement the minimum wages in the province as even today laborers are getting from Rs5,000 to Rs8,000 salary in the industrial units and private schools instead of Rs15,000, the minimum wages declared by the provincial government.
Rukhshanda Naz, a known women’s rights activist and Executive Director of Legal Aid and Awareness Services (LAAS), said the lack of policy for home-based workers and domestic workers adds more to the miseries of child labor.
Imran Takar, a child rights activist, said that child labor was very high in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata and unfortunately there was no specific focus on the subject.
“Children in the province are involved in different sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, bonded labor, domestic labor and home-based work. There are a number of laws at the provincial level, which regulate child labor and working conditions of children across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The laws such as KP Prohibition of Employment of Children Act 2015 and KP Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 2015 are in place but their implementation and awareness is a far cry,” he added.
Report | The News International

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