Implementation of Child Labor Laws in Pakistan-Systematic review


Child labour is one of the problems that has remained persistent despite the wars that have been waged against it. The objectives of this study were: to determine various Child labour treaties or declarations in Pakistan, India and USA; to determine the objectives of the Pakistan’s child declarations; to determine how the implementation of Pakistan’s child declarations differ with that of other countries such as India and USA. A systematic review was conducted by reviewing relevant literature. The literature were sought using key words and a combination of the key words in Google scholar search engine. Articles with relevant titles and contents of the abstract were selected. An inclusion and exclusion criteria was set to allow selection of the articles for review. The relevant key words included child labour in Pakistan, labour laws in Pakistan, treaties associated with child labour and the objectives of the child labour treaties. Articles which were published earlier than 2010 were not included in the study. The study revealed that there are various laws and treaties in Pakistan which protect children from child labour. International treaties and conventional are also present to ensure that child labour become an issue of the past generations. There are more laws in the developing countries that are aimed at ensuring the welfare of children than in developing countries. However, the study also revealed that child labour is still rampant in Pakistan and it is necessary to create awareness and sensitize community members against child labour. Sound policies should be put in place by the government of Pakistan to boost economic empowerment and end extreme poverty. Child welfare is better improved when the society is economically empowered.

Key words: Child labour, laws, treaties, conventions, member states, ratify, welfare

Table of Contents

Abstract 1

1. Introduction 4

1.1 Background information 4

1.2 Statement of the problem 5

1.3 Objective 5

1.4 Specific objectives 5

1.5 Research Questions 6

1.6 Justification 6

2. Literature review 7

2.1 Child labour 7

2.2 Child economic welfare 9

2.3 United Nations and Child Labour 9

2.4 Reasons for the establishment of child declarations 11

2.5 Child labour laws or declarations in Pakistan 12

2.6 The Factory Act, 1934 12

2.7 The West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Ordinance 1969 13

2.8 The Employment of Children Act 1991 13

2.9 The Bounded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 13

2.10 The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994 14

2.11 Child labour laws in India 16

2.11.3 The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 17

2.11.4 The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2015 17

2.11.5 The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 18

2.12 Child Labour Laws in USA 18

2.12.1 The Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938 18

2.12.2 The State Labour laws 19

3. Methodology 19

3.1 Exclusion and inclusion criteria 20

3.2 Ethical consideration 20

3.3 Assumptions of the study 21

3.4 Limitations of the study 21

3.5 Results 21

3.6 Child labour laws/treaties in Pakistan 22

3.8 Objectives of the laws/treaties 24

3.9 Effectiveness of Pakistan’s child declarations 24

3.10 Comparison with USA and India 25

4. Discussion 26

Conclusion 32

Recommendations 33


1.1 Background information

Child welfare is a concern with both local and international interests. Child labour undermines child development and welfare making it one of the enemies of national and international development. Child labour refers to the employment of children any kind of job or work which tend to take away their childhood time, inhibits them from accessing good or formal education and which is considered physically, socially, mentally and morally treacherous and harmful. The Child labour has become a global issue in the world political arena. The realities in many countries are distinctive to the nation and complicated on their own ways. According to Compassion International (2018), 11% of the total world child population that amount to 168 million are trapped in child labour. Similarly, in poor and developing countries, 1 in every 4 children are involved in ally type of employment (Unicef, 2017). In Pakistan only, high level of child labour is witnessed (Khan, et al. 2018) with 19 out of 40 million kids are child labourers (Pakistan Observer (2017). This has prompted countries over the world to design laws are regulation inform of treaties or declarations that should proactively act as child labour deterrent. Child labour treaty or declarations are laws and policies which are enacted by the governing bodies to protect children from being exploited in their inhabitants (Jabeen, & Jabeen, 2018).

Protection of the rights of children through policy and legislation is important for their welfare since they are not able to stand for their rights on their own. In many societies, children are normally involved in economic activities and in many cases for their in direct gain. However, this robs the children the opportunity to develop into career adults who are capable of making their own decisions. Globally, various laws have been put in place to ensure that children are protected from labour that would derail their process of growth and development. Pakistan also has various laws and policies that promote the welfare of children including their health and education (Jabeen, & Jabeen, 2018).

1.2 Statement of the problem

Exploitation of children continues to be one of the main stumbling blocks towards the realization of global development agenda. The most common form of exploitation of children is child labour which continues to deny children their rights. Many declarations aimed at discouraging child labour have been put in place both nationally and internationally. Even as these declaration and treaties are implemented all over the world and especially in Pakistan, numerous cases of child labour is still experienced in many parts of the world especially in Pakistan. There are various challenges which accompany the implementation of child labour laws. Even when they are implemented successfully, realisation of child welfare remains a mirage and many still suffer hunger, malnutrition and abuse. The effectiveness of the treaties which have been put in place remains elusive. Few studies have been conducted to determine the gaps that hinder the efficacy of the treaties making it difficult for the policy makers to make adjustments on the areas of weaknesses.

1.3 Objective

The main objective of this study is to determine how the implementation of child labour treaties in Pakistan improve child economic welfare and compare with other countries such as India and USA.

1.4 Specific objectives

The specific objectives of the study were:

  1. To determine various Child labor treaties or declarations in Pakistan, India and USA.
  2. To determine the objectives of the Pakistan’s child declarations
  3. To determine how the implementation of Pakistan’s child declarations differ with that of other countries such as India and USA

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What are the various labour treaties or declarations which have been set in Pakistan and how do they compare with that of India and USA.
  2. What are the main objectives of child labour declarations in Pakistan?
  3. Do the child Labour declarations promote child economic welfare?
  4. How effective are the child labour declarations in Pakistan?
  5. How do the child labour declarations in other countries compare to that of Pakistan?

1.6 Justification

The future of every nation is determined by how children are nurtured into adulthood which is a function of their protection and education. Child labour is one of the greatest setbacks that hinder child welfare and development. Child labour treaties have been put in place to ensure that children are protected from exploitation or activities that can hinder their welfare which include growth and development as well as their education. The effectiveness of child labour treaties depends largely on how they are implemented. Assessing the implementation strategies of the child labour laws is a move in the right direction towards ensuring that children live in a productive environment and their welfare is taken care of. Determination of the efficacy of the treaties can enable the government to strengthen the policies which are geared towards the implementation of the treaties. The policies will consider holistic development in the society hence eliminating child labour.

Literature review

2.1 Child labour

Employment of children in economic ventures remains one of the most devastating phenomena affecting both developing and developed countries (Schumpeter, 2017).  It is also one of the leading reasons for child trafficking. Children living in developing countries like Pakistan are more prone to child labour including the worst forms of labour than those living in developed countries (Edmonds & Pavcnik, 2005). The causes of child labour varies from one geographic location to another and from one county to another. The economic status of a country may greatly influence the prevalence of child labour. According to studies conducted by international labour organization, poverty is one of the single main cause of child labour globally (Admassie, 2003).

In Pakistan for example, the average income of a person considered to be at the middle class is about $6 (Ali & Erenstein, 2017). On average, such people have to feed households that have around 9 people. This means that on average, each individual is living on less than $1 per day. Consequently, child labour is rampant in Pakistan since the children are struggling to contribute to what is put on the table in the form of meals (Ali & Erenstein, 2017). Children are employed in various sectors but the proceeds of their employment is taken by their parents who use the same for putting food on the table for their children. This is the common situation in Africa, many parts of Asia and Latin America. The United Nations organization has put mechanisms in place to ensure that child labour is eliminated. Other than poverty, child labour also results due to poor quality education and vice versa. This means that child labour is brought about by poor quality education, additionally, child labour does not give children opportunity to go to school.

Manufacturers or industries employ children because they feel that they are easier to pay and manage in their companies (Zadek, S. (2007). As companies search for cheap labour to reduce their cost of production, they end up recruiting children in their firms who are not given the minimum recommended wages but tokens to take home. Such companies are seen to exploit children and deny them opportunity to go to school besides failing to pay them what is recommended for their work (Zadek, S. (2007). The International Labour Organization (ILO) put into place mechanisms that prevents companies from employing children. At the national level, the government of Pakistan has also put in place various laws to protect the welfare of children. All companies have to ensure that the people they recruit in their firms have attained the minimum age before they can be allowed to work in their factories.

In farming societies, children are involved in the farming activities as part of the family chores (Abebe & Kjørholt, 2009). This deprives them of the opportunity to go to school. This is because the hours in which the children are required to be in school are the same in which they are required to be in the firms, although they may not be employed for pay like in other forms of labour, children do not get the time to play which is good for their personal development and to attend school for the purpose of their education.

It is more challenging to deal with children who are involved in family labour than those who are employed in factories and other places of work. This is due to the fact that some families consider the involvement of children in their work places like farms as part of their initiation to adult life. Although some people involve them in commercial or economic activities, most of the labour is for domestic purposes and just form part of their means of livelihood. This is very common among the children living in rural areas (Fudge, 2014).

In some places, children are involved in domestic activities like fetching water, firewood or looking after their sibs. Although these kinds of activities may not qualify to be called child labour but they also deprive children opportunity for normal development and proper education. The government has put in place laws and policies which ensure that no child is denied the right of attending school. Parents or guardians are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all their children are given opportunity to go to school (Fudge, 2014).

2.2 Child economic welfare

The economic welfare of children does not stand alone in any society (Seccombe, 2002). This is due to the fact that children are usually provided for by their parents. Low income status of the parents directly translates to poor economic status of the children (Ladd, 2012). Child welfare is largely affected by the welfare of their parents. In Pakistan therefore, the welfare of children is largely determined by the welfare of the parents which reflects the economic status of the country (Graham & Jordan, 2011). High poverty levels usually affect the vulnerable population which is mostly women and children. High prevalence of child labour in Pakistan is an indicator of escalated poverty in the nation. This means that parents are not able to provide basic needs for their children. Majority of people in Pakistan are living in poverty. This situation has made people to explore other ways of survival including the engagement of their children in various forms of child labour (Graham & Jordan, 2011).

2.3 United Nations and Child Labour

In 1919, the International Labour Organization (ILO) was established and the first main concern was to abolish child labour globally. Protecting children rights is global problem which started back in 1924 with aim of protecting the rights of children. The 1924 Geneva Declaration was a breakthrough in the fight of protecting the rights of the children (Jabeen, & Jabeen, 2018). This was a global move that was to enable all the member countries to work towards ending child labour. The declaration was later improved through amendments by the United Nations in 1958 (Jabeen, & Jabeen, 2018). The United Nations observes 12th June annually as a day when the whole world commemorates the fight against child labour. Since its inception, the global institution is keen on ensuring that child labour is eliminated in all parts of the world. According to their report in 2018, it is documented that over 218 million children are still facing child labour even after the laws were passed. The forms of labour can be put in three main categories as have been prescribed in international law.

The first category is the worst form of child labour which includes slavery, child trafficking, servitude and forced labour. This kind of child labour is highly prohibited in all countries and is viewed as a criminal act. Child trafficking refers to where children are forceful ling moved from their original homes to other places away from their family either forcefully or through being duped. They are later involved in demeaning activities such as child prostitution or other forms of labour. This is much comparable to slave trade and is highly prohibited by law. Generally, this category of child labour has reduced significantly but still found in few instances.

The other type of labour is when the child is engaged in labour but has not met the minimum age requirement as prescribed by law. In Pakistan for example, children are considered as those people who have not completed their fourteenth year (The Factory Act, 1934). They are not allowed to take any kind of employment as they are still considered as children. In Pakistan, children have been employed in shops or even as domestic workers. This category of child labour is still rampant in many parts of the country (Black et al., 2008).

Lastly, any form of labour that jeopardizes the well being of the child which includes denying them opportunity to be children, giving them physical torture or mental torture. All these forms of labour are prohibited by both national and international law. In this category, the most common type of labour is that of working in the farm, taking care of animals or domestic work. They also prevent children from having time to play and go to school. Irrespective of the economic status of the family, children are not allowed to stay back at home when they are supposed to be in school in the name of undertaking chores.

There are many international declarations that have been ratified by many countries that subscribe to the United Nations. Cognisant of the importance of this matter, the United Nations created United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1946 to help in taking care of the issues that affect children. In 1989, the convention on the rights of the child was one of the most rabidly ratified conventions all over the world. It helped in improving how children were viewed globally which improved their care and charity. It has led to the adoption of children’s rights in many countries which has significantly improved their welfare.

The Minimum Age Convention (MAC) was established in 1973 to specify the age which was considered minimum before a child would be involved in labour. It was specified that the guiding principle would be the minimum year required for compulsory schooling. The other guiding principle was the economic level of the country which would set the minimum age at 14 or 15 years. It was also specified that there may be exceptions to the age limit where the kind of work which is done is light and for the purpose of training the child.

2.4 Reasons for the establishment of child declarations

Research shows that developing countries are prone to child labour abuse. In Pakistan, in every four children at least one of them has suffered or is still suffering from child labour related issues (Ahmed, 2018). Child labour declarations have been made with due strictness with an attempt of ensuring that there is complete elimination of child labour. The following are some reasons for the establishment of child labour laws in Pakistan. (i) To ensure full devotion for the best interest of the child at all time. (ii) To ensure that the right of a child to survival and development is protected. (iii)To ensure that all children in Pakistan views and opinions are respected by all institutions within the country (Ahmed, 2018). (iv) To ensure that no child will be forced into any income generating activity which are considered hazardous in any way for their health, physicality, social aspects of their life and which will deprive them good upbringing like right to education, good health care and access to basic needs (Ahmed, 2018). This objective made it mandatory for the welfare of children to be considered in all aspects. It is concerned with ensuring that all the children in Pakistan are able to meet their basic needs and complete the compulsory elementary education.

2.5 Child labour laws or declarations in Pakistan

Various laws and policies have been enacted by the Pakistan authorities to help in the protection of children against exploitation or even forced labour which may affect their well-being (Boutros, A. 2018).

2.6 The Factory Act, 1934

The Factory Act, 1934 was enacted to safeguard the interest of children in Pakistan. Chapter 5 of the act provides special provisions for children and adolescents. It stipulates that no child who is below fourteen years shall be allowed to work in a factory. Teenagers or children who wish to work in a factory are required to get certificate of fitness from a surgeon in the company of adults. The certificate has to indicate whether the child is fit for the prescribed job and if they are able to withstand the normal working hours. Chapter 6 of the same act describes the penalties and procedures for contravening what is prescribed in chapter 5. It states that the factory manager or the occupier of the factory shall be fined up to 500 rupees if they are found culpable of employing children (The Factory Act, 1934).

This law is meant to affect operations of all kinds of factories or processing plants in Pakistan. Their prospective employees are therefore required to provide evidence that they have attained the required minimum age before they are allowed into the factory premises. The human resources department of the factories have therefore to keep records of all their employees and present them in case it is reported that some of the staff do not meet the minimum age required. Meanwhile, it is expected that during the early years in life, the children are expected to undergo compulsory basic minimum education.

2.7 The West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Ordinance 1969

These guidelines were put in place by the governor of West Pakistan. Later, this ordinance was extended to work in the entire country. It provided guidelines for all the working establishments in Pakistan. The hours of work, the kinds of labour and the remuneration of the workers were all specified in this Act. Section 20 of the ordinance prohibits the employment of children. Children are defined here in as people who have not finished their fourteenth year. It specifies that no child shall be required to or allowed to work in any establishment.

2.8 The Employment of Children Act 1991

This act prohibits employment of children in certain occupation and processes. This is specified in part II of the act. Part III stipulates regulation of conditions or work of children. This act has also described the exceptions under which people considered to be below the required age may engage in work including the type of work and the number of hours that they may take during a normal day. This Act clarifies the roles and the responsibilities of children. It specifies the kinds of jobs that can be done by children and for how long. This ensures that children in the society grow up to be responsible with the required life skills.

2.9 The Bounded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992

On 17th March 1992, the government of Pakistan published in the Gazette of Pakistan an act to provide for the abolition of the bonded labour system. This act specifies that from the time of its enactment, there shall be no bonded labour system. It also specifies that the law overrides all the other previously established laws which had earlier given provisions for forced labour. All the labourers under such conditions had to be set free and be allowed to work as free labourers. Although all labourers were meant to be set free, there are cases under which some people still restrict the freedom of their domestic workers which is very similar to conditions of bonded labour. This is highly prohibited by this ordinance.

2.10 The Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994

In the province of Punjab, Compulsory Education Act was enacted in 1994. This was to ensure that all children attend school to acquire the compulsory education before they can take part in any form of labour. The Act stipulates that primary education is compulsory for every individual. All parents have to allow their children to attend primary school until the child has completed primary education course. The act also provided for the establishment of School Attendance Authority which ensures that every child of school going age goes to school until the primary education course is completed.

The School Attendance Authority was meant to follow-up children to the family level to ensure that they go to school. Parents who would not allow their children to go to school for one reason or another were pursued by the authority and compelled to allow their children to go to school. The authority worked in collaboration with the other law enforces to ensure that all parents complied. They also linked up with schools in following up the cases using the school attendance register. In any case a child dropped out of school, they had to be informed by the school management so that they could take action for the parents.

All these declarations in Pakistan were geared at achieving world set standards on the rights of children regarding provision of any kind of labour (Boutros, 2018). For instance, the employment act of children of 1992 which prohibit and regulates the employment of minors or engaging the minors in the provision of labour in certain occupation within the country. The factory act of 1934 contains important clauses which stipulate the age bracket at which children could offer their labour force to factories and the specific departments where they can get employed. No child below the age of 14 should be employed in the industries or factories (Boutros, A. 2018). These declarations ensured that certain provisions of the constitutions are well implemented. For example, state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children in the age of 5 to 16 years in a manner which will benefit them and the nation (Boutros, A. 2018).

The child labour laws have been enacted in many countries to comply with the set world standards. Over 194 countries has been has successfully adhered to the set specifications by the international bodies fighting for the rights of children. Less than five countries have not complied by the set laws, South Sudan, Somalia, and US are among the countries which have not enacted such laws and policies (Posso, 2017). The US however claim that such policies and policies have been enacted in other laws thus may result to duplication of the policies (Posso, 2017).

Although there are many laws and conventions that prohibit child labour, there is evidence that child labour is still rampant in many parts of the world. In Pakistan, child labour is rampant and many organizations have been established to help in the fight against child labour. The organization create awareness about the exploitation of children. Save the children, a UK based organization is one of the non-governmental organizations working to save the Pakistani children from child labour. Society for the protection of the rights of the child (SPARC) is among the NGOs in Pakistan that is also guarding against child labour. UNICEF has also funded several activities in Pakistan aimed at reducing child labour.

In some cases, child labour has been viewed as a major contributor to economic growth. Bhalotra and Heady, (2003) observed that there is a paradox in child labour and wealth of land rich families. They reasoned that most agrarian families have their children world in the farms as a way of generating income for the families while those who do not have land are not involved in such kinds of labour. They demystified the fact that poverty contributes to child labour. Although child labour is predominantly seen to be harmful to the child, depending on the definition of child labour, it has also been seen to be beneficial to the child. Apart from the extreme cases of children going to war, child prostitution, working in hazardous conditions, most of the child labour cases occur at home (Edmonds & Pavcnik, 2005). It has also been observed that children who participate in domestic activities learn life skills and gain independence faster than those who are denied the chance of participating in domestic activities (Topping, 2005).

2.11 Child labour laws in India

India shares a border with Pakistan. It would be interesting to compare how the labour laws are in the immediate neighbouring country. In India, the laws related to child labour include: The Factories Act of 1948, The Mines Act of 1952, The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986, The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2015, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 among other laws. The laws were established at different times yet with the sole purpose of ensuring that child labour is eliminated.

2.11.1 The Factories Act of 1948

The Factories Act of 1948 was enacted by the parliament of India. This ordinance was put in place to safe guard the welfare of the workers in the factories. The Act specifies the age limit under which employees are to be recruited by the factory. It also specified the duration and the conditions under which individuals who are above 14 years can work in a factory. It specifies that special certificates are required before they can be allowed to work in the factor and the kinds of duties they are allowed to undertake. The Act is actively administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment which is one of the major ministries in India. In this act the a child is defined as an individual who has not completed the age of 14 just like in the Factories Act of 1934 for Pakistan.

2.11.2 The Mines Act of 1952

This ordinance was set to provide guidelines on the regulation and safety in the mines. The Act is applicable in all parts of India. This act prohibits the employment of persons below the age of 18 years. Owing to the fact that mining activities are dangerous and carry so much risks, children are not allowed to work in such premises. The mines are therefore regularly inspected to ensure that the owners comply with this ordinance.

2.11.3 The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986

This Act specifically prohibits the engagement of children in some places of works and stipulates guidelines under which children may be engaged. The Act which is in force in all parts of India requires that no person who has not completed the 14th year is employed in places which may be hazardous or dangerous. It also specifies the conditions under which people who have not attained the age of 18 years may be engaged in work places.

2.11.4 The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2015

This Act was enacted by the parliament of India in 2015 with an aim of ensuring that children who are not in line with the law are protected and given the due care. The law is ensures that children who are in conflict with the law are in need of care and protection by catering to their basic needs through proper care. It also ensures that such children need protection, development, treatment and social re-integration. This is usually done by adopting a child-friendly approaches in the adjudication and disposal of matters in the best interest of children. They are therefore rehabilitated through the processes provided by law and the specified institutions and bodies which have been established. Although children are expected to be law abiding and exhibit high discipline, in case of any deviation, the government of India has put in place mechanisms that allow children who have erred to be corrected in a humane manner.

2.11.5 The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009

This Act was passed by the parliament of India on 4th August 2009. It incorporates the word free and compulsory education. It is free in the sense that parents or guardians are not expected to pay for their children to be in school. It is compulsory in the sense that all children have to complete elementary education which is provided between the ages of 6 and 14. The government also put in place mechanisms that ensure that children at this age are enrolled, attend and complete their elementary education. This Act also makes education a fundamental right of children and not even parents are allowed to deny their children this right. The act specifies that it is the duty of the parents to send children to school which is funded by the government. It has in built mechanisms for follow-up to ensure enrolment, attendance and completion of education.

2.12 Child Labour Laws in USA

United States of America is one of the countries which are leading in child protection and welfare. Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, increased industrialization brought about the need of high number of labourers required to run the factories. This saw the exploitation of children as a source of cheap labour. Consequently a legislation was passed to regulate labour in various sectors. The Fair Labour Standards Act was enacted in 1938 to ensure that there were guidelines in work premises on recruitment of persons. In the USA, legislation is categorised either as the federal laws or the state laws.

Federal laws governing child labor in USA. The main federal law governing child labour is the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

2.12.1 The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

This act stipulated the minimum wage that an employee would be paid and the maximum number of hours that a person could work per week. It also prohibits employment of minors and sets conditions for engagement of young people. This act prohibited the employment of people who have not completed their 14th year but allowed the employment of persons who are 14 and 16 years in non-agricultural jobs. Employment in the agricultural sector was less strict as compared to non-agricultural sectors.

2.12.2 The State Labour laws

In the USA, each of the states have various regulations for engagement of children in the labour market. There are specifications on minimum age that a child has to attain in order to be allowed to work in any premises. In care there is a conflict with the Federal law, the one which is more strict prevails for that particular state. The state laws operates within the jurisdiction of particular states and the same may not be applicable in a different state.



This study was conducted as a systematic review on relevant literature on how implementation of child labour laws in Pakistan compares with that of other countries such as USA and India. India was selected due to its proximity to Pakistan and the fact that they share a common history and to a large extent have many similar prevailing conditions. The study was be conducted during the period 15th October 2018 to 10th November 2018. Relevant articles were sought using Google Scholar search engine with relevant key words such as child labour in Pakistan, Implementation of child labour laws in Pakistan, Child labour laws in India, Child Labour laws in USA, labour laws in Pakistan, Child welfare in Pakistan, treaties associated with child labour and the objectives of the child labour treaties. A combination of the key words were also put on the search engine. Articles with relevant titles were selected for review.

3.1 Exclusion and inclusion criteria

The articles were selected based on their titles and contents of their abstracts. Articles with relevant title and relevant contents of abstract were considered for review. Articles that had relevant titles but the contents of the abstract were different were not considered. Articles that were not published in English were not considered. However, articles that were published in other languages but an English version was also available were considered. Further selection of the review articles was based on the contents of the abstract and the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The main inclusion criteria was the period of publication of articles in which articles published after 2000 were considered. However, for the statutes, their period of publication was not considered since laws remain relevant until another one is put in place to override the former or a repeal is conducted. A law which was passed in the early 20th century will still be relevant until it is either repealed or changed by another ordinance. Usually, the amendments are based on the original laws as was enacted by parliament. Only laws written in English were selected for review. Therefore, articles with relevant titles, contents of the abstract and published after 2000 were selected for review.

3.2 Ethical consideration

Ethics governing such studies were put into consideration with the researcher taking care to observe utmost professionalism. Relevant permits were sought and approvals made before commencing the study. While conducting the study, it was necessary to acquire licences or passwords that would enable me to access some digital libraries. Citations were made in accordance with the rules and no quotations have been used without due mention of the sources of the materials.

3.3 Assumptions of the study

The assumptions for this study were that the articles were reviewed before publication hence contains information which is true and verifiable. The other assumption is that the articles were written by legal experts and authors who understand how treaties are supposed to work in countries like Pakistan.

3.4 Limitations of the study

The limitation of this study is that it relied on secondary literature and the accuracy or consistency depended on the accuracy of the previous authors.


The results indicated that there are various articles which have documented issues about child labour and labour laws in Pakistan (Table 1).

Table 1: Articles found using Google Scholar search engine

Key words Google scholar search Selected articles Reviewed articles
Child labour in Pakistan 156,000 20 5
Labour laws in Pakistan 130,000 25 4
Implementation of child labour laws 120,000 24 6
Child labour Laws in India 100,000 30 7
Child labour laws in USA 60,000 7 4
Treaties associated with child labour 73,000 10 3
Objectives of the child labour treaties 65,100 9 2

3.6 Child labour laws/treaties in Pakistan

The study has revealed that there are various laws and treaties which guard against child labour in Pakistan. The laws in Pakistan include the Factory Act 1934, the West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Ordinance 1969, the Employment of Children Act 1991, the Bounded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 and the Punjab Compulsory Education Act 1994. These laws were put in place to guard the interest of the child and ensure that no child is denied opportunity to go to school or participate in activities that promote their growth and development.

There are also various international laws that prohibit child labour. Various conventions have been ratified by member states to protect the interest of children. The international labour organization (ILO) is one of the organizations in the fight against child labour. In 1924, the Geneva declaration was passed as one of the boldest moves promoting the elimination of child labour. The United Nations organization has also contributed to the ratification of various treaties which fight against child labour including the organization that deals with the welfare of children such as UNICEF.

3.7 Implementation of Child labour laws in Pakistan

It is evident that the child labour laws in Pakistan were put in place with inbuilt implementation mechanisms (Behrman et al., 2012). Each of the Act is supposed to be implemented by the relevant ministry which is either on child welfare or labour ministry. In some cases, an authority was put in place to ensure that the law is implemented. For example, the Punjab Compulsory Act of 1994 was put in place to ensure that all children enrolled for, attended and completed compulsory elementary education. In order to implement Punjab Act, a School Attendance Authority was put in place (Juneja, 2003). The Authority was the main implementing agent of the law and they ensured that all the children of school going age in Pakistan were enrolled in school and attended those schools until they completed. Failure to comply with this law would have the parents of the children face charges in a court of law and asked to pay fines. Most of the laws have been implemented well and the authorities are in place to ensure that the main goal of ensuring child welfare is achieved. However, there are still cases of noncompliance in Pakistan as revealed by the presence of many non-governmental organizations working on child protection and welfare. It is reported that some families still have their children engaged in child labour and do not give the opportunity to go to school.

3.8 Objectives of the laws/treaties

The main objectives of the laws or treaties that have been put to prevent child labour is to ensure that children are protected from exploitation and are given equal opportunity to realize their full potential. The objective is to ensure child welfare is taken care of. In many developing countries like Pakistan, children are prone to child labour in with the aim of getting additional income to support the families especially those living in poverty. Consequently, children are denied the opportunity of going to school leaving them more vulnerable. Although they are engaged in economic activities, the wages are usually collected by the parents. Child labour therefore does not provide any economic benefits to the children but deny them their rights to quality education, growth and development.

To some extent, child labour contributes to poverty or forms part of the vicious circle. For example, when children are involved in child labour and fail to go to school, they will not be able to secure employment and will remain jobless. Consequently, they will live in poverty and deny their children the opportunity to go to school as they will be helping in work for the family to earn additional income for them to meet their needs. The treaties were therefore set to give the children opportunity to develop themselves so that they can be able to live descent lives in future.

3.9 Effectiveness of Pakistan’s child declarations

The laws and treaties have significantly discouraged child labour in Pakistan. Each of the set laws have contributed in a way to the welfare of the children. Currently, child labour is not as rampant as it used to be before the establishment of the laws. For example, the Punjab Compulsory Education Act of 1994 ensured that every child has to attain a minimum of primary education. This law made it possible to realise high enrolment of children in school with a good number transiting to secondary school and institutions of higher learning.

The child labour laws have made the country to aspire towards getting to the level of what is required by the global standards. Having people attain the minimum basic education has significantly increased the literacy levels of the members of the public. This has made communication easier as many members of the public are now able to adopt new technology due to their increased capacity. Furthermore, children also learn from the others, since many are engaged in school and busy pursuing their careers, it has become the trend and nobody is interested in undertaking odd jobs. They are generally working hard to attain the required qualifications so that they can get decent jobs.

3.10 Comparison with USA and India

There is a great disparity between the child labour laws in developing nations with those of the developed world. It can be observed that in the USA, there is one major ordinance that regulates child labour. The Fair Labour Standards Act of 1938. This is a Federal legislation that is observed and affects all the states. Although there is no much deviation from the regulations which are provided by ILO, it can be seen that there is more flexibility in the regulations especially in agricultural sector. Pakistan has more regulations governing child labour than the USA. It is also important to observe that there are fewer cases of child labour in the USA than in Pakistan.

The laws regulating child labour in India are much more comparable to those in Pakistan (Botero et al., 2004). To a large extent, they are similar in content and the times of their operations. It is also evident that the developing nations have more regulations on child labour. It has also been observed that the laws in both India and Pakistan have significantly reduced the prevalence of child labour although there are still cases of child labour. Child welfare in India is also similar to the situation in Pakistan. Many children are still facing starvation, malnutrition, hunger and high infant mortality. These characteristics undermine the achievements made through implementation of various laws. Although some parents may have their children involved in child labour because of their negligence and greed, in many cases it is out of pressing needs because they are not able to put food on the table for themselves and their children.

The free and compulsory elementary education is very much repeated in protection of children in the developing nations but we do not see a similar situation in the developed countries. Both India and Pakistan have laws touching on compulsory education. They have also put in mechanisms to ensure that children are enrolled and attend school until they complete elementary education. It is also evident that in countries where the parents are Enlighted like in USA, child welfare is equally taken care of. Children in developed countries have a better welfare that those in the developing countries.


Child labour is a multifaceted phenomenon in which children are employed for short term gain. Although poverty is among the main causes of child labour, it can also be argued that child labour contributes immensely to poverty. This is due to the fact that children who are employed at tender age are denied opportunity to go to school which can be an eye opener in their lives. Furthermore, they are denied the chance to develop like the other children as they are denied opportunity to play and interact which are important ingredients in child development and welfare. In order to protect children from the scourge of child labour, both national and international community have put laws in place to discourage child labour.

There are various laws and treaties that have been put in place to discourage the prevalence of child labour in Pakistan. Child labour is highly discouraged by both the local and the international community. The child labour laws discourage the employment of children and also contains there in, punishments that are given to those who break the law. The laws ensure that the interest of children are taken care of without compromise. Compulsory primary education is important in that it gives the children opportunity to make choices since they will have acquired some level of reasoning. All children in Pakistan have to go through primary education before they can do anything else.

Before the enactment of the compulsory education Act, many families were not concerned about their children going to school. In many of the households, children are looked at as alternative sources of income and they thought that by having them employed, they would not have to meet the cost of taking them to school. This act ensures that all children go to school while the Employment of Children Act of 1991 prohibits the employment of children. This leaves the parents of the children with no option but to take them to school.

The Employment of Children Act of 1991 specified the kind of duties for which children are not to be engaged. It also specifies the number of hours by which children of a particular age may be required to work. These specifications allow the children to develop before they can be engaged in such activities. It is also important to point out that the laws have discouraged the factories or businesses that relied on children as sources of cheap labour. The West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Ordinance of 1969 was put in place to discourage the employment of children in any premises. Although the ordinance was passed by the mayor of the local authority, it was instrumental in ensuring that all the children of Pakistan were protected from employment.

At the international level, child labour is equally discouraged. ILO has put in place many conventions to which Pakistan are a party and they have been ratified. The government of Pakistan therefore has to keep in check child labour because they have ratified many conventions that have been passed by the international community. This is also a major guard against child trafficking to other countries. Children in Pakistan are therefore not allowed to be employed in any country. They are not to be subjected to employment in their own country as well as other countries. This gives them opportunity to grow and develop and eventually make their own decisions on the kind of jobs that they would want to do after completion of their studies.

The United Nations organization has in its calendar, 12th June of every year as a day when people commemorate abolition of child labour. This is a constant reminder to all the member states that child labour is a monster that has to be kept at bay by all means. Additionally, destitute and vulnerable children have a special fund which is managed by UNICEF. UNICEF has programs that take care of the vulnerable children and help in the provision of their basic needs. They also help in sensitization and awareness of child welfare especially in developing countries.

Studies conducted by UNICEF indicate that most of the cases of child labour are those conducted through relatives or their friends. One in every 4 children is involved in some form of labour globally (Unicef, 2017). In Pakistan, 19 out of 40 children are involved in some child labour. This indicates that child labour in Pakistan is still rampant. Despite all the laws, that prohibit child labour, some households still have their children taking employment in various forms. Most of such cases are not documented and they occur informally.

As observed by Ahmed (2018), child labour is still rampant in Pakistan despite the many laws and regulations. In some cases, the crime of engaging children in labour is perpetrated by the members of the family making it difficult to tackle. In cases where children are engaged in domestic labour like babysitting, it is difficult to charge the households. The compulsory school attending authority was able to ensure that all children go to school and take action against the parents who did not obey the law. The laws therefore become very effective if the implementing agencies are put in place. This is because they help in monitoring and follow-up which ensures success.

In economic spheres, some people argue that child labour is both beneficial to the community as well as to the child. They reason that when children are involved in activities, they acquire skills which are useful for their growth and development and at the same time bring in additional income. Communities involved in farming activities find it irresistible to work with their children in the farms. Although there is a thin line between child labour and child duties and responsibilities, it is clear that child labour denies the child quality time for their education and development. It is therefore important to remember that the short term economic gain by having child labour cannot be compared to the damage caused to the children.

Although both the local laws and the international treaties discourage child labour, it is evident that there are still some incidences of child labour in Pakistan. The laws are very clear against child employment. However, due to lack of awareness, there are cases where some children end up in employment even without the knowledge of the law keepers. It is therefore necessary to ensure that citizens are sensitized about child labour so that they can adhere to the provisions of the laws that guard against child labour.

Since the laws were established to protect the welfare of children, each household should ensure that all their children are protected against child labour. Any person who violates the law should be reported and subjected to the judicial process for justice to be done. In most cases, the current instances of child labour are concealed by the family members who are of the opinion that the employed children help in generating income to run the affairs of the family. They do not know that by doing so, they spoil the future of the children and deny them opportunity for quality education which can help them break the vicious cycle of poverty.

Although the laws and treaties are effective in fighting child labour, there is need for sensitization and capacity building of the families to realise the dangers of keeping their children employed at the expense of their education. It is important to point out that child labour is still present in Pakistan. Although the rates have reduced significantly, the numbers are still high compared to the rest of the world. The international treaties and the local laws are effective in curbing child labour but sensitization and awareness can help in ensuring that the objectives of the laws are duly achieved.

In other countries like the United States of America, the international labour have not been ratified at the national level (Bolton, 2000). However, there are various laws which prevent child labour. Child labour is also viewed differently between the developing and the developed nations. In the developed world, it is very unlikely to come across child labour. However, in developing countries, child labour is very rampant. This necessitates the establishment of stringent laws in order to protect the interest of the children.

A comparison between the child labour laws in India, USA and that of Pakistan reveals interesting findings. As stated earlier, the USA did not ratify the ILO conventions at the national level and their laws governing child labour are equally few. The main legislation in USA prohibiting the employment of children is the Fair Labour Act of 1938. Although the law has been amended severally to regulate labour and employees, it can be observed that they are more relaxed as compared to the laws that have been enacted in both India and Pakistan. The guidelines in working in agricultural farms appears to be open ended and are not as forthright as the regulations in the developing nations.

This is probably due to the fact that the developed counties do not have child labour as a big challenge in their systems. Similarly, compulsory education is not a major issue in the developed world because it is obvious that all children have to go to school and there is no option of doing otherwise. Since the children in the USA are hardly engaged in labour especially those that are demeaning, it would be needless to put stringent laws and establish institutions whose main role is to ensure people go to school. Laws and guidelines are put in place to correct problems which are in the society. If there is no problem then there is no need of establishing a law.

India and Pakistan were colonized together, they have basically the same history and have more or less similar resources. The need for establishment of strict labour laws and treaties in these countries cannot be overemphasized. Previously, many children were involved in working in dangerous occupations like working in the mines. They were exploited and were denied the chance of going to school. The laws that were established that prohibited child labour and the policies that were established that encouraged children to go to school have had great impacts in the developing nations.

The literacy level has significantly increased in Pakistan and this can be traced to the laws that prohibited employment of children (Mason, 2003). This means that the child labour laws in Pakistan has had significant impacts. Having high enrolment of children in school have contributed to increased living standards of people in Pakistan. People who have gone to school can secure good employment and have their standards of living improved. With better income, parents are able to take their children to school further reducing the burden of child labour.

In order to ensure that the welfare of children is adequately taken care of, the government should work towards improving the living standards of parents (Pecora et al., 2017). What is coming out clearly is that it is difficult to separate the children from the rest of the community members. As observed in the developed countries, high standards of living translate to better child survival and welfare. This is not possible without economic empowerment of the members of the community. Poverty remains one of the greatest burdens in fighting child labour and ensuring child welfare. It is advisable for the government to employ mechanisms to fight extreme poverty. This is because even if the children are completely protected from labour and nobody employs them, even if they are forced to go to school, high poverty levels will still undermine their welfare because they will go to school hungry and remain malnourished. Provision of basic needs for the children is only possible with proper economic empowerment of the parents.

It is evident that the government of Pakistan has laws which are current, stringent and are in tandem with the international labour laws that regulate engagement of children. However, there are some cases of child labour and poor child welfare in general in Pakistan. The main factor which have been seen to contribute to this scenario is the poverty in Pakistan. The government should put in place policies to ensure that the citizens are economically empowered. Unemployment, homelessness and hunger are still common in many areas in Pakistan. The government needs to put in place mechanisms to ensure that every member of the society has something to do which can contribute to their economic welfare. An economically empowered nation will ensure that their children are well taken care of in all aspects. No parent will be happy to enjoy anything and deny their children the same. In many instances, children only go out to work if there is a serious deficit back at home. The development approach in Pakistan should be holistic and all inclusive.


Child labour laws in Pakistan are effective in discouraging child labour. The laws at the national level are strongly supported by the international laws and treaties which are aimed at ensuring that child labour is eliminated in Pakistan. However, there are still cases of child labour in the country. In most cases, the households conceal the activities for short time gain and this denies the children an opportunity to go to school and develop normally. Although there are laws and treaties that are aimed at preventing child labour, it is necessary to put mechanisms in place to promote sensitization and awareness in Pakistan. This is because some of the forms of child labour are subtle and the children are subjected to the activities by the family members making it difficult to awaken any action or prosecution.

Child welfare is a broader aspect in the society and cannot just be judged by the absence of child labour. Since the main contributing factor to child labour is poverty, efforts should be made to end extreme poverty in Pakistan. Economically empowered community members will take good care of their children without allowing them to be subjected to child labour. Although the international organizations such as UNICEF are working towards the welfare of children, poverty in the country undermines their effort and the Pakistani children are still facing hunger, malnutrition and neglect. Sound policies working towards economic empowerment of the citizens is a lasting solution for child welfare.


  • There is need for the government to continue the implementation of the laws to ensure that the interest of the Pakistani children are taken care of. This will ensure that no child is subjected to any form of child labour. Families which are able to provide for the needs of the family will always ensure that the children are sheltered, fed and educated.
  • Continued sensitization and awareness about the laws prohibiting child labour is necessary to ensure that all the Pakistani children are protected from child labour.
  • The government should put in place policies which are aimed at improving the economic wellbeing of the society and to end extreme poverty. This is due to the fact that poverty undermines the welfare of children even if the laws prohibits that they should be involved in any kinds of labour.


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