Child Labor in Pakistan: A Holistic Analysis

child labor in Pakistan -

No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment. (Article 11(3), Constitution of Pakistan, 1973)

What is Child Labor?

Child laborers are those children who are deprived of enjoying their childhood in its full spirit. They engage in work that hinders their intellectual and emotional growth. This inability can lead to harmful effects on the personality of such individuals. The work commonly refers to activity detrimental to children’s psycho-emotional and physical health. The hazardous environment where children work can cause complications. It includes health issues, emotional instability, and psychological challenges. There are various child labor laws promulgated to address child labor in Pakistan. However, it is important to highlight the holistic nature of the social problem. This article will shed light on common types of child labor, its causes, and the risks associated with child labor. 

Common types of Child Labor in Pakistan

Forced Labor/ Slavery 

It refers to engaging individuals in laborious work without their consent on terms of contracts. It includes the involvement of families, including children, in brick kilns, the sports industry, and also in armed conflicts. Children work from supporting roles to technical work. Such children are most likely to be physically abused during their work hours. 

Child Domestic Labor

Child domestic labor had taken the least attention unless a few high-profile cases of violence against child domestic workers surfaced in the media. One reason for its under-reporting is cultural sensitivity, where house privacy is at the top. Children work domestically in the house; however, no law allows them to get into the house without court orders. Children engage in domestic labor, mainly working in the homes as domestic workers. Parents from low-income families living in rural areas often send their girl children to cities for such work.  


It is a traditional form of labor where a person, with or without his family, is forced to live and work on a land that doesn’t belong to him. This agreement often goes with little or no reward. 

Major Causes of Child Labor in Pakistan


An existing literature is evident that socioeconomic conditions affect the prevalence of child labor. The major cause of the menace is child labor. A family with poor financial resources can engage their children in some work. So that he can contribute to the fulfill the burden of family income. On the other hand, parents cannot afford their child’s schooling. They prefer to send their children to work instead of educational institutions. Thus, it is clear that poverty and child labor have a strong association. 

Family Size 

Families with large family members are more likely to require huge financial support to run the family. In Eastern societies, large families are a common phenomenon. This phenomenon not only affects the child’s development but also burdens the family financially. Besides, gender disparities further augmented the financial burden on the breadwinner of the family. Therefore, parents of large families with minimum financial resources may engage their children in work to maintain their financial position. 

Cultural Factors

The labor market is associated with cultural dynamics. Some cultures encourage children to engage in labor work to learn technical skills. For example, families in some parts of Africa and South Asia prefer engaging children in labor work to contribute towards family income.   

Risks Associated with Child Labor in Pakistan

Child workers are prone to physical and psychological harm. These harmful effects can persist for the whole life of such children. Here are major health issues they are likely to have: 

Health Complications

Children are at more risk of being them to injuries, abuse, cuts, burns, fractures, tiredness and faintness, extreme fears, and nightmares. Those children who work in coal mines tend to baldy suffer from inhalation problems.

Sexual Abuse

It is often reported that child workers at factories, workshops, hotels, or shops are at higher risk of sexual abuse. The working environment and adults working there can exploit them by molestation, rape, or sodomy. Sexual abuse of children can lead to sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, and the use of alcohol or drugs. 

Physical Abuse

Children working in small establishments experience slapping, beating, and pushing. It is common for children to work in workshops, restraints, and other commercial establishments. 

Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect is one of the major causes that leads to the deprivation of children at early stages of life period. It is due to neglect of family love, warmth, loneliness, and hopelessness. Children working outside the home cannot spend time with their parents or live far from family. Such children cannot enjoy their childhood and missed the parenthood. 

Deprivation from Right to Education

Free and compulsory education is a legitimate right for every child. Working for the whole day cannot allow them to spare time for their education. Thus, such children remained out of school and worked for lower wages for their entire lives. 


The complex nature of child labor demands concerted efforts from various stakeholders. In addition to child labor laws and the international framework in place, the prevalence of child labor highlights deep-rooted socioeconomic issues associated with it. The consequences of child labor extend beyond the economic implications. A systematic approach combines law enforcement, development initiatives, and increased access to quality education. Initiatives taken in Brazil, Peru, and Uganda are some examples of adopting community-driven approaches to stop child labor. Pakistan should prioritize the protection of the rights of children, fostering a child-friendly environment and equitable society for all.  

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