September 21st, 2020
By Asra Haque
There is complete apathy of the ruling classes to the plight of modern slaves and bonded labourers in the country, participants said at an event to mark the 32nd anniversary of the landmark Darshan Masih case which lead to enactment of the Bonded Labour Act of 1992.
On the anniversary, BRIC Pakistan (a non-profit organization geared toward the rehabilitation and betterment of exploited classes) celebrated “Freedom Day” to honour 22 of the surviving 30 labourers who had signed the historic petition that became the basis for the Bonded Labour Act of 1992.
Founded by Liaqat Javed, himself a former child bonded labourer, BRIC Pakistan’s event saw freed labourers, activists, lawyers and political figures laud the efforts of the now-forgotten labourers who not only pushed for laws to protect the rights of the exploited classes but also made history by moving the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take its first suo motu notice on 18th of September 1988.
Speakers at the event noted that despite the passage of this progressive legislation, not much has changed owing to a failure to implement laws and the complete apathy of the ruling classes to the plight of modern slaves and bonded labourers.
However, speakers urged the audience comprising mostly of brick kiln labourers and their families, to continue to struggle as the discourse on civil liberties continues to pick up steam.