During the period following 1990s, Pakistan was blamed for using child labor regarding manufacture of steel surgical instruments. Although this was a huge setback for the surgical instrument manufacturing industry at that time, Pakistan responded in a very positive manner and took a number of steps to overcome this perception at the international level. Some of the actions taken in this regard are discussed here.
A project titled “Combating Hazardous and exploitative Child Labor in surgical Instruments manufacturing through Prevention, Withdrawal, and Rehabilitation” was initiated by the joint collaboration of Italian government, Pakistani government and ILO in the year 2000. The program contributed significantly towards the problem due to its ‘direct acting’ nature, and close to 1500 children, who were previously employed in surgical instrument production, were given pre-vocational training and education. Awareness about this problem at the local level and the need to address it also increased within a period of 2 years. June 2006 witnessed the completion of second phase of this program (International Labour Organisation).
Overall, the response has been encouraging and in 2009, Employment Services and Condition Act, which focuses on child labor issues was announced. Additionally, three provincial governments initiated internally funded programs to address the issue of child labor. Provincial coordination committees to monitor program implementation have also been established. In Pakistan, UNICEF and ILO are working in close collaboration to oversee Child Labor Monitoring (CLM) activities (International Labour Office, 2012).
Moreover, the European Commission in collaboration with International Labour Organization (ILO) has initiated a project named “Combating abusive forms of child labour” which is working to build the capacity of government and non-state actors to overcome the issue of child labor (European Commission, 2010).
The role of SIMAP (Surgical Instruments Manufacturers Association of Pakistan) regarding prevention of child labor cannot be overlooked. The organisation has always ensured the implementation of rules that are developed from time to time to overcome Child Labor. SIMAP has a dedicated "Committee on Child Labor", which pays surprise visits to factories; this is essential for factories to maintain their "Child Labor Free Certificate". SIMAP arranges frequent meetings that seek input from all stakeholders in order to develop and implement sustainable plans to prevent occurance of child labor. The government of Punjab has always maintained a strict stance in this regard and an FIR is immediately registered against any surgical production unit where child labor is reported.
The collective outcome of all these actions has manifested as absolute eradication of the problem of child labor from Pakistani surgical instrument manufacturing units. SIMAP is currently working on production of a video documentary to present before the world, the changed and enlightened surgical industry of Pakistan.
International Labour Organization. n.d.. Combating Hazardous and Exploitative Child Labour in Surgical Instruments Manufacturing (Phase II). Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://www.ilo.org/islamabad/whatwedo/projects/WCMS_114408/lang--en/index.htm
International Labour Office. 2012. IPEC action against child labour 2010-2011: Progress and future priorities. International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).
European Commission. 2010. COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT: Combating Child Labour. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2010/february/tradoc_145803.pdf