Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

A Critical Discourse of Child Victimization and Abuses through Labor in Pakistan

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

A Critical Discourse of Child Victimization and Abuses through Labor in Pakistan

Article excerpt

Introduction

Based on variation in contexts, multiple discourses have their own approaches towards defining child labor and victimization (Mazhar, 2008, Khan, 2014). There are marked differences in the use of the term child labor due to differences in level of intelligence, prevailing social, cultural and religious circumstances, cultural relativism, prevailing laws and institutional differences, which generally accounts for such apparent gradation and understanding of the concept (Okpukpara & Odurukwe, 2003). Child labor, according to the reports published by International Labor Organization (ILO), is the type of work which deprive children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity; and is harmful to their physical and mental development. The ILO reports (2005 & 2006) conclude that child labor is the work that is mentally, physically, socially, or morally hazardous to children and/or interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely, or requiring them to combine school attendance with an excessively long and heavy workload. Likewise, the International Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (1999 as cited in ILO, 2005) assert that work or situations where children are compelled to work on regular basis to earn a living for themselves and their families and as a result are disadvantaged educationally and socially; where children work in conditions that are exploitative and damaging to their health and to their physical and mental development; where children are separated from their families, often deprived of educational training opportunities; are forced to lead prematurely adult lives. Besides, as a factor, child labor deprives children of their childhood needs, circumscribes their dignity by endangering their overall social, cultural, economic and religious capabilities (Mazhar, 2008).

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) notes that child labor is hazardous for child health, personality development and education. It is harmful and is a key factor that retards growth that amounts to victimization (CRC, 1989, Art. 32). Philanthropists debate the nature and extent of work that can be conveniently categorized as child labor (Mazhar, 2008). This also makes the situation more complex and poses the question of relativism in consideration (Khan, 2014). The ILO Convention if taken as a standard in the current debate, focus the nature of work and individual characteristics of a child, however (Mazhar, 2008). Child labor would then include children below the age of 12 who are economically active; engaged in more than what is called lighter work; and all children enslaved, forcibly recruited, prostituted, and trafficked to engage in hazardous work (ILO 138, 1973; 182, 1999). Victimization, according to UNESCO (2008), involves recruiting or forcing children below 18 in work for economic (cash/kind) reward on regular basis.

The debate at global level indentify child labor as a cultural and situational need (Basu, 1999). Okafor (2010) opines that in poorer countries where agriculture is the main source of production, children engage in farm activities which allow them to learn about farms, markets, paid-jobs and later on enable them to integrate into the mainstream society. He is of the view that that such kind of learning is the compulsory aspect of life to face the economic challenges in future (Khan, 2014). Therefore, Mazhar (2008) in his analysis of child labor concludes that all forms of child labor need not be included in child labor as some of them are useful and can be categorized as part of informal education and training. Similarly, Ray (2000) is of the view that children found supporting their parents in household chores, in family enterprise or in agriculture may be helpful in nurturing capabilities and learning potentialities in children, which are considered socially valuable qualities. …

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