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At the onset however, it must be realised that this issue of bonded or forced labour is both highly politicised as well as being prone to concealment in all the four provinces of Pakistan.
Until the late 1990s in particular, no one seemed to pay any heed to this issue despite that fact that Pakistan had ratified International Labour Organizations (ILO) Conventions against forced labour since the 1960’s.
Bonded labourers are mostly from socially excluded groups, including minorities and migrants who suffer additionally from discrimination and political disenfranchisement.
Studies conducted by reputable agencies like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reveal that Pakistan has a large rural-urban gap in terms of social and economic indicators of development.
Often, these loans are given with high rates of interest, which keeps compounding over time.The existence of national laws such as the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 also did little to change the situation on ground.Inaction or apathy concerning this practice can be attributed to a lack of empirical knowledge regar-ding the issue, combined with inadequate institutional capacity to take appropriate action, as well as socio-cultural acceptance of this phenomenon within the context of a highly stratified social set-up which exists across the country.In the above sectors apart from mining, women feature as a major labour force.
Since no written contract exists the worker is vulnerable to all forms of exploitation.
Bonded labourers within the agricultural sector are not allowed to leave landlord’s farm till their debts are repaid.