The monster within

Pic by FQ

A few days ago I was standing at a signal on the junction of  Tariq Road and Bahadurabad when a few street urchins, all young approached my car window. After giving them what alms I could spare I watched in true horror as one of them, a girl around 9 strode over to the next car and the driver instead of helping her, tried to con her into sitting with him in the car. His intentions were written on his face, and they were not very saintly.

Scenes like these are common place all over Pakistan, in our urban centers even more than the rural ones. Obviously me and a few other motorists got down and made her move away from his vehicle to which he claimed to be “only giving her a lift”. Aside from all  this ” so called helping”  the underlying problem still remains, in fact it is not so much a problem but a rampant disease which has spread like a viral across this land.

Child Labor is an unchecked monster in Pakistan. From the fields to the carpet factories to the textile industry, child labor is both rampant and cherished because of its high output and lower costs. Much has been said and written about this problem but witnessing it in action on the streets and signals of Karachi is something that tears you apart.

The worse part is that our society is a contributor to this disease rather than an eradicator of it. We all tend to turn the other cheek because we claim that it is better than begging or prostitution but we do not realize that both these ills go hand in hand with this labor age. Obviously a kid is a kid whether forced to work or something else, they usually give in to an authority figure for whatever ghastly task they want them to perform.

Poverty and the states unwillingness to help those who live in total squalor also gives penchant and efficiency to this evil. There is no solution to this other than the fact that we must as a society act together.  There are several NGO’s working to combat this problem but child labor will never go away until we chose to go without it!! Not only must we ban it from our shops and factories and offices but we must also see that it does not exist in our home. Yes, not even in the little daughter of our bua who sometimes helps out with the dishes. We should not permit it, in fact we should try to educate the next generation of the people who work for us as sweepers and gardeners and masis so that they can be empowered to be more than an exploited class.

This is not going to be easy off course, because we an affluent class have been exploiting these people for generations as solutions to our laziness. Which well provided for house in Pakistan does not have its chotas? When will we allow these chotas a chance to become something?

Rather than tut tut about it when we read it in magazines, we must act. These children have no choice as they have to earn for their families survival, we must as a god fearing society provide them an alternative to this life of misery. Failure to do so will lead to further ruthlessness and exploitation and will mean that the future of Pakistan, its masses are reduced to either just slaves in sweat shops or beggars on the roads.

The ways to act are several. We can sponsor children for education. We can make sure they do not have to earn the measly money we can donate to their families to keep them in school. A few friends abroad have gotten together and have started taking care of the children of  servants in their entire neighborhood in Pakistan. We can all take part in this privately, there is no need for fanfare, this is for our nation and its future.

Act now, before it is too late.

  1. Faisal its interesting you narrate the little incident as I myself was disgusted to see something similar this morning. But I was unfortunately not as brave as you were, or perhaps the thought of encountering a man on the road, being a woman myself was beyond my courage. Sad but true. Its all the game of a position of power. Aren’t we all accused of housing a ‘chota’ or ‘choti’ at some point in our life? We close our eyes because the need for a househelp overshadows our sense of right and wrong. I appreciate your key message of being the change you wish to see, and that we must start the reform from home by saying no to the menace of child labour. Very well done as always. I like how your blogs inspire thinking!

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  3. Education should be the first & foremost priority of our nation. If our ladies want help in their household jobs by keeping young servants, they are not helping anyone. In case if its for financial help to a masi (maid), still its our responsibility to see that they attend school or at least taught at home.

  4. great post… i worked at a channel that would constantly play ads of end child labor, but had you ng boys working in the canteen. after a few months, i noticed that they were no longer allowed inside the main building. i found out that they had been banned because they had come on air a few times in the area behind the anchor, and as such were a source of embarassment. no one thought about educating the kids, or at least asking them not to work. nope, only brushed them out of sight.

  5. I have personally observed that in many cases children are themselves not convinced to get education and sometimes their parents dont want. When i talked to our maid that she should admit her daughter in school, her response was ‘Choro bibi, parha ka kia karna ha kul ko isko yehe kam karna ha’. They feel its only wastage of their precious time.

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