Pakistan is a beautiful country, but the situation of children working in brick making factories – brick kilns – deserves attention. Yousaf Adnan is director of CARE Pakistan and one of the people who do their best to improve the situation for the children.
According to the Government of Punjab Labor Department, there are 10,347 brick kiln factories in the province.
Of these brick kiln factories, 7,966 are functional and 2381 are non-functional. 87,134 families are currently working in functional brick kiln factories, including 126,779 children under the age of 14. The lives of 69,100 male and 57,679 female children are at risk due to the terrible environmental conditions in brick kiln factories adversely affecting their growth, health and education. For the prohibition of child labor and the regulation of labor at brick kilns in the Punjab, and to deal with other matters, the Government of Punjab passed “The Punjab Prohibition of Child Labor at Brick Kilns Act 2016” in 2016.
The laws are in force but ineffective implementation of the laws is a barrier to obtaining fundamental rights for children in brick kilns.
Pakistan ratified the “Convention on the Rights of the Child” (CRC) in 1990 and is bound to protect the civil, political, economic, health and cultural rights of children. The current situation of children’s rights in brick kilns in Pakistan and the statistics concerning their deprivation, malnutrition, neglect and abuse are alarming. The rights enshrined in the CRC cover health, nutrition, education, physical and mental development, freedom of expression, right to play, leisure and rest, protection against economic exploitation (child labor), discrimination, violence, and all forms of abuse. The situation in brick kiln factories is deteriorating because the children have not been provided basic fundamental rights according to the Constitution of Pakistan and UN CRC. It is a matter of grave concern that Pakistan is ranked lower than Iran, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and even Nepal when it comes to children’s rights.
A family working in a brick kiln is obligated to work hard with all family members because they are compelled to take a peshgi (advance) from the owner. The government of Punjab has fixed wages at PKR. 1295 for the production of 1000 bricks but the employees receive no more than PKR. 700 to 750. Moreover, employers receive “Sood” (Interest) on the amount of money they take as an advance. Employers deduct 25 in every 100 rupees as interest. In this situation, the whole family, including the children, is forced to work. It also highlights the cruel behavior of brick employers: because workers are illiterate and not qualified, employers can easily mislead them through flattery and pay them minimum wages.
The situation demands that initiatives are taken to protect the rights of children in brick kilns by providing quality education, adequate health facilities, healthy diet and lobbying, and advocacy to set them free from bonded labor at brick kilns.
Author: Yousaf Adnan, Executive Director
Community Awareness, Reliance & Execution (CARE) Foundation, Faisalabad
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Cell No. +92 300 6675347, +92 344 4905347
Postal Address: House No. P-1985, Street No. 2, Hajwairy Town, Faisalabad-38000, Pakistan
Facebook: CARE Foundation Faisalabad
Photo: A young child working in a Brick Kiln. We don’t know who the child is or who made the photo.