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Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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Prevalence and Conditions (PC) Study in Pakistan

In 2007, ICF was commissioned by OCFT to conduct research on child labor in the carpet industry in Pakistan. The Pakistan Study was part of a three-country project entitled: "Research on Children Working in the Carpet Industry of India, Nepal, and Pakistan." The project researched the prevalence of working children and child labor in the production process of the export-oriented handmade carpet industry in Pakistan in 2009-2010. The study included children from 5-17 years old and examined the working conditions with particular attention paid to workplace hazards, hours worked and the presence of children working in forced or bonded labor.

The Study methodology included preliminary qualitative research, development of a national sampling frame, and a large-scale cross-sectional sample survey of factory-based and household-based production.

The Study estimated that 646 factories and 39,366 households were engaged in Pakistan's carpet industry, employing a total of 105,915 workers in the 12 months preceding the survey, of whom 33,413 (31.5 percent) were children. Almost all (96.3 percent) the children working in the carpet industry in Pakistan were working in households. Nearly all children working in carpet households and carpet factories (91.7 percent and 94.0 percent, respectively) were living with their parents. While more than half (53.6 percent) of the child carpet workers were girls, amongst the factory-based children, boys made up 78.1 percent of the working children.

Pakistan's 1991 Employment of Children Act identifies Carpet weaving, wool cleaning and the wool industry as hazardous occupations. All (100 percent) children working in the carpet industry in Pakistan were engaged in hazardous work based on international standards. In addition, all children (100 percent) reported being exposed to some hazardous agent or process and four-fifths (81.1 percent) showed indications of working excessive hours.

There were strong indications that many children working in the carpet industry and their families were in forced/bonded labor, as one-fifth (22.3 percent) of the households were indebted, and two-thirds (68.2 percent) of the indebted households reported having difficulties repaying their debts.