Tayyaba and child labour

As the heart-wrenching tale of Tayyaba, the child maid, allegedly tortured in Islamabad, surfaces – it raises more questions on child labour.

Many people in Pakistan would argue that if underprivileged and poor children are being given a means of supporting themselves and their families that can only be a good thing.

Certainly, when people from wealthy countries try to tell families in developing countries, stricken with poverty, living under $2 a day, that they cannot determine how to best look after their families, it can seem quite paternalistic.

But there is a reason, deeper and more valid than obvious.High levels of child labour is in fact linked with adult unemployment and under-employment.

The reason many people and business choose to employ children is because ‘they slip so easily under the radar.’ According to Stop Child Labour, one of the reasons children are so vulnerable is because ‘there is no supervision or social control mechanisms, no unions that can help them to bargain for better working conditions. These are very low-skilled workers without a voice, so they are easy targets.’ Because of their vulnerability, many people and businesses in Pakistan will actually employ children in preference to adults.

According to the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations: ‘There is a clear link between child labour and low wages for adult workers, both in agriculture (cotton production) and in garment factories.’ They argue that if ‘child labour was banned, labour would become more scarce, which would actually allow adult workers to negotiate better wages and improve labour conditions.’

If children are being paid less than adults to do the same job, it means that families are actually worse off. If adults are paid a better living wage, their children can have the opportunity to get an education, thus giving them more opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.

2040 hours
Thursday 29 December 2016

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