Pakistan OKs Labor Rights Conventions

From Associated Press

The military-led government has ratified two international conventions promising to ban child labor in dangerous industries and to guarantee that women get the same wages as men, Labor Minister Omar Asghar Khan said Saturday.

The ratification of the International Labor Organization conventions "holds great symbolic value" in a country where children as young as 5 work with brick kilns and in hazardous chemical plants, Khan told reporters.

"It shows that Pakistan is a progressive country, which is striving to give equal status to women and take care of children," he said.

The convention on women calls for equal wages for work of equal value. The convention on children also bans all forms of slavery, sale and trafficking of children, child prostitution and their use in pornography.

Pakistan has one year to draft laws to protect children and ensure that women receive equal pay. Khan said a committee has been set up to identify the dangerous industries in which children in Pakistan work.

It took Pakistan 17 years to sign the conventions.

More than 3.3 million children ages 5 to 14 work in Pakistan, according to a government survey. Almost half of these children are younger than 9 and toil in industries where working conditions and wages are poor.

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