PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child and Welfare Commission report has revealed that there is no child beggar in the provincial metropolis and many other districts of the province.
The Peshawar High Court (PHC) took serious notice of the report and summoned the Secretary Labour Department, Secretary Social Welfare Department and Chief Protection Officer of the commission on October 12 to explain their position on the child labour issue.
Everyone was astonished in the court room when the petitioner, Muhammad Khurshid Advocate pointed out before a division bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Ijaz Anwar that as per the Child and Welfare Commission, there is no child beggar in Peshawar and many other districts of the province.
“There are many child beggars sitting on the roads even before the high court,” the lawyer pointed out. The bench observed that the report is nothing but a joke and summoned the high-ups of the concerned departments in the court.
As per the report (copy available with The News) the Child and Welfare Commission in its report from May 1, 2011 to December 31, 2016 clearly mentioned that there was no male, female and transgender child beggar in Peshawar, Buner, Charsadda, Battagram, Lower Dir and Chitral.It was stated that there are only 15 child beggars in the province including one in Swabi, four in Mardan, six in Swat, one in Abbottabad, two in Kohat and one in Bannu district.
Interestingly, the report revealed that there are 14 child labourers, including 10 male and four female in Peshawar. The report stated that there were only two female domestic child labourers in the provincial metropolis.
Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth observed that child labour in homes was increasing day by day. He said people were hiring children to look after their own children and do the house chores.Additional Advocate General Waqar Ahmad submitted before the bench that the respondents in the case had submitted replies. However, he sought time for explaining the provincial government’s position about its policy on domestic child labour.
The court was hearing a writ petition filed by Peshawar lawyer, Muhammad Khursheed Khan, against child labour.During the hearing, he informed the bench that the government had been spending a huge amount on the Child Protection Commission, but the child labour situation was worsening in the province.
The lawyer submitted that child labour was a sensitive issue and the provincial government was not giving any attention to it.He pointed out the provincial government had enacted the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act, 2010, and also established the Child Protection Commission, but the act hasn’t been implemented in the province.
He noted that the provincial government established Child Welfare and Protection Commission in 2010, but the issue remained unresolved.The petitioner, who in the past served as deputy attorney general, submitted that the alleged torture case of a minor maid, Tayyaba, working in the house of additional district and sessions judge, Islamabad, compelled him to take the child labour issue to the higher court and ensure implementation of the child labour laws.
The petitioner argued that Tayyaba was lucky that the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the case and she got justice. “What would be the future of 25 million children in the country working as domestic labour in homes in miserable conditions?” he asked.
He submitted that the last survey on child labour conducted by the federal government in 1996 showed that there were 3.3 million child labourers in the country. He added that as per the United Nations Organisation survey conducted in 2012, there were 12.5 million child labourer in Pakistan and the total has now reached up to 25 million.
The petitioner said child labour is visible everywhere at homes, shops, hotels, motor workshops, brick-kilns and industries. He said the professional beggars were using children for begging on the footpaths in presence of law-enforcers and this needed to be stopped.