Child labour is a critical concern of many developing countries in the South Asian wing, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. There is an obvious lack of information regarding child labour among the remote rural areas of Pakistan. Due to poor and critical economic circumstances, people are forced to send their children to work in agricultural farms, factories, mills (processing units) and brick kilns. The major factors behind child labour include generational poverty, high illiteracy ratio among the parents, unemployment, large family sizes, feudalism and flexibility in the existing child labour laws. The present research study was conducted in the rural areas of Faisalabad district which is located in the central region of the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Multistage sampling technique was utilised through the course of this entire study. At the first stage, one tehsil (Jaranwala) was selected randomly from the selected district. At the second stage, three Union Councils were selected randomly from the selected tehsil. At the third stage, two villages were selected from each Union Council (total 6 villages) by using stratified random sampling technique. Furthermore, at the fourth stage, 30 children were selected as respondents (180 in total) by convenient sampling from the selected villages. A comprehensive and well-structured interview schedule was prepared, keeping in view the objectives of this research study, and it was personally administered on the respondents in the form of face-to-face interview. This research study found that 71.7% of the respondents were males, 47.2% belonged to the age group (11-15) years, 40.6% lived in the joint family system and 50.0% were illiterate. Furthermore, 53.3%, 49.4 %, 46.1%, 28.3%, 17.2%, and 14.4% of the respondents were involved in land preparation, weeding, seeding/sowing, irrigation, water management, and fertilizing in the agricultural sector, respectively. Most of the respondents (51.1%) claimed that they were working to support their respective families and 50.0% of the respondents told that they were punished and verbally abused by their employers. The study concluded that irrespective of the fact that the government of Pakistan is working for the upliftment of the children in the rural areas, the trend of child labour is rising gradually due to the poor economic conditions of the rural families. As long as the economic condition of the rural people is not strengthened, the children will continue to work in the agricultural sector as child labourers, and they will continue to be exploited by the feudal lords in the rural areas and industrialists in the urban settlements.
Shabbir Ahmad, Wu. Huifang, S. Akhtar
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