Causes and Impact of Child Labour

Circumstances and Causes of Child Labour

Analyzing the circumstances and causes of child labour across Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) reveals patterns and contributing factors within each province, as indicated by the findings of respective child labour surveys.

In Punjab, the prevalence of Child Labour and Adolescent Hazardous Work (CLAHW) is notably influenced by the education level of the household head and the household’s economic status. As the education level of the household head increases, the percentage of children engaged in CLAHW decreases, indicating a correlation between education and child labour. Similarly, children in households with lower wealth are more likely to be involved in CLAHW, with a higher incidence observed in households benefiting from the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Migration of the household head and experiencing natural shocks within the household are also associated with higher rates of child labour. The primary reasons cited by parents or guardians for allowing children to work include assisting in household enterprises, supporting household needs, and supplementing family income.

In GB, child labour prevalence is influenced by factors such as household composition, migration status of the household head, and socio-economic status. Children in households with fewer members and those where the household head has never migrated are more likely to be engaged in labour. Moreover, children in female-headed households and those from poorer backgrounds are disproportionately affected by child labour. The prevalence of child labour decreases with increasing household wealth and higher education levels of the household head. Natural or economic shocks experienced by the household further exacerbate the likelihood of children being involved in labour. Reasons for children’s involvement in labour include supporting household needs, supplementing income, and personal interest or skill development.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, similar to Punjab and GB, child labour is influenced by the education level of the household head and household wealth. The  migration of the household head and the loss of at least one parent also contribute to children’s engagement in labour. The most common causes cited for children being in labour include the low education level of the household head, poverty, migration, and parental loss.

Impact and Consequences of Child Labour

Examining the impact and consequences of child labour, as revealed by the findings of the GB Child Labour Survey 2018-19, the Punjab Child Labour Survey 2019-20, and the KP Child Labour Survey 2022, elucidates the detrimental effects on children’s well-being and development.

In all age groups, extreme fatigue emerges as the most commonly reported consequence faced by children engaged in labour, hindering their physical and cognitive development. This is followed by injuries or poor health, particularly pronounced among older children, and negatively impacting their overall health and ability to perform daily tasks.

A concerning trend observed across all surveys is the reduced likelihood of children engaged in labour to attend school, compared to their counterparts not involved in labour. This disparity widens as children progress through age groups, indicating a significant barrier to education for child labourers, thereby jeopardizing their future prospects and perpetuating cycles of poverty.

Injuries are disproportionately prevalent among children in labour, with a higher incidence compared to non-working children. Moreover, exposure to health hazards increases with age, particularly affecting girls, further exacerbating their vulnerability.

Psychological consequences also weigh heavily on child labourers, with reports of mental health problems and instances of abuse, including psychological, physical, or sexual abuse at work. These experiences leave lasting scars on children’s emotional well-being, impairing their ability to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

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