Gharida Farooqi is Not The Only Culprit
When it came to light that television host Gharida Farooqi had unlawfully employed a 15-year-old girl, who she was allegedly abusing and keeping in illegal detention, everyone had nothing but contempt for Gharida.
Voice recordings, allegedly of Gharida abusing the young girl’s father and family went viral. Social media erupted with anger, calling for the arrest of Gharida for employing a minor and keeping the girl against her will.
However, child labor is extremely common in Pakistan, but we have conditioned ourselves to turn a blind eye. The aunt who employs an 8-year-old boy to clean her home is the sweetest person you know or the cousin who has a 10-year-old girl looking after her toddler is very nice to her and gives her 3 full meals a day.
According to the Pakistan’s Constitution, children under the age of 14 cannot be employed in full-time work. Any kind of work that impedes the child’s education is illegal. Yet we see children as young as 5 working for their keep.
When you question someone about why they have employed a minor in their homes, you will hear a myriad of defenses. And at times, people will get angry at your question; taking it as an insult.
‘we’re giving this child a chance at a better life’
One of the run-of-the-mill excuses, which frankly I am tired of hearing is that ‘we’re giving this child a chance at a better life’. People claim that had they not employed the child, she or he would be starving and would have been a burden on their parents.
My only question to that is; if you can afford to pay their salary then why not just support the child’s education and other expenses without having them work for you? If you are so adamant that you are only doing this to improve the child’s life, then why not just give the financial help without expecting the child to work tirelessly for you in return.
I will be honest; I have been to a lot of homes where I have seen young children working. When I am served a cold drink by a kid half my age, the drink tastes bitter.
Bitter, because I am ashamed that I am witnessing an injustice yet keeping silent about it. I have made a promise to myself, that no matter where I am or who it is if I see a minor who has been employed by someone, I will say something.
I Will Stop Being an Accomplice In Their Crimes
If I ruin friendships and family ties, if I embarrass someone in the process; that is a risk I am willing to take. And if everyone really is as outraged as they seemed regarding Gharida’s unlawful employment of a minor and her inhumane treatment, I expect there will be others who stand next to me and support me.