Promotion and Protection of Rights of Bonded Labors in Pakistan

The campaign is based on working for democracy and human rights in order to shape a less violent and more just society. It works to attain people's rights including: freedom of movement, choice of job, access to basic social services, and not being subjected to extreme forms of physical, mental and sexual abuse. The campaign selected brick kiln bonded labor as a specialized area to focus on, based on the high proportion of bonded labor in the brick kiln industry. The campaign is centered on the promotion and protection of bonded labor in Pakistan and it took many endeavors and the execution of many activities for attaining the ultimate goal of initiating a sustainable battle against the use of debt bondage and trafficking men, women and children at brick kilns. During the three decades of execution, the campaign proved to be very impactful for the targeteted beneficiaries.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The overall objective is “initiating a sustainable combat against the use of debt bondage and trafficking men, women and children at brick kilns.”
Objectives:
1. To eliminate bonded labor through educational, advocacy, vocational and lobbying initiatives by facilitating bonded la to acquire CNICs and Social Security Cards, and register as voters.
2. To mobilize communities for the protection and promotion of their rights, especially among the brick kiln community.
3. To provide opportunities of free primary education to working children, especially among the brick kiln workers.
4. To empower female representation at various levels, enhance the protection of women’s human rights and reduce violence against women through advocacy.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

The objectives were achieved through the increased coordination between civil society actors across the targeted areas and the government departments, by activating District Vigilance Committees (DVCs) that provided better involvement and participation of the government sector with the CSOs for regulations and enforcement of labor laws. To activate the DVC proved to be a hard pill to swallow in the beginning but it was done through mobilizing labor to come together in the form of peaceful rallies, strikes, lockouts and boycott. The objective of creating sustainable revolt against the exploitation of the rights of bonded brick kiln labor was achieved through strong mobilization skills, demonstrated in the field, intensive Focused Group Discussions (FGDs), seminars, meetings etc. The objective of providing brick kiln children education involved motivating their parents and mobilizing the brick kiln owners through meetings, orientations and training.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

IDA activated the District Vigilance Committees (DVCs) for the first time in 2005, when the CSOs had little awareness of this issue, to undertake this intervention for the better attainment of the desirable results in the struggle against bonded labor and for the promotion of the regulation of labor laws. IDA had other options in its thematic areas but the preferences given to the bonded men, women and children was the first and foremost choice because this working area was unique in the sense that it had least been approached and it was a source of many abuses. Sexual harassment, illiteracy, poverty, trafficking, poor health and hygiene, and environmental pollution are abundantly found at brick kilns with debt-bonded labor

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

1. Facilitated more than 54 000 laborers in obtaining CNICs and voter registration (51% men and 49% women).
2. Facilitated the enrollment of 21 000 (45% girls) brick kiln children in schools and the liberation of 15 000 families from brick kiln bondage, as well as providing children with uniforms, school bags and the syllabus. Two of the permanent staff members of IDA - the finance manager and program officer - came from brick kiln schools.
3. 150 working women and their relevant employers gained awareness about worker's rights, leadership skills and the Sexual Harassment Act, as well as the implementation of friendly HR policies.
4. 400 women were trained in the vocational training centers.

CHALLENGES FACED

IDA has to face numberless challenges and confronted high risks during the execution of some major intervention in its campaign to save bonded labor from onrush thrush of slavery. The brick kiln industry may be categorized with high risks for concentrated execution. IDA has to confront hostility by brick kiln owners; Blasphemy accusation was filed against IDA staff and attacked by owners with sticks and bamboos. Even after this the rivals didn’t bring to a standstill and fabricated a rape case against an IDA member and his wife. Another IDA staff member, Mr. Imran Anjum was convicted under this charge and was sent to Sahiwal District Central Jail. The hybrid role of local government, head joining of brick kilns and corrupt police finally imposed the registration of a complaint for attempt to murder (FIR 298/12) against IDA staff. The mitigation strategies were adopted in order to cope up from time to time without making compromise throughout the executions.

LESSONS LEARNT

The concentrated effort towards achieving the mission (which is characterized by its non- achievable nature and is always recognized by the level of the attainment of its broken goals and objectives) makes made able to facilitate thousands of people from this campaign. So, a mission oriented approach towards the community always makes you high and high in your struggle to elevate the voice of voiceless people. Another lesson learnt was; a maximum concentration to the rights of women and children should be preplanned and scheduled before the implementation of the project, as these feeble groups of communities require special concentration and heed. Moreover, the concentrated efforts towards elevating living standards of people should be made which leads to improving their awareness, independence, skills and education and thus leads to economic empowerment and independence automatically.