The project, Combating Child Labour in the Carpet Industry in Pakistan, is based on an agreement signed between the PCMEA (Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers' and Exporters' Association) and the ILO in 1998. The agreement outlined the PCMEA-ILO partnership to eliminate child labour in the carpet industry in Pakistan. The project, which started in 2002, aims to provide non-formal education, mainstreaming, and pre-vocational education to about 23,000 carpet weaving children, and access to micro credit to the 1,000 poorest carpet weaving households. The first phase of the project was successfully implemented in three districts (Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, and Hafizabad) and, in the second phase, the project has been expanded to three other districts (Multan, Faisalabad, and Toba Tek Singh).
More current details can be found at the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour.
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The Bonded Labour Liberation Front estimates that eight million children are bonded in Pakistan. Half a million are allegedly bonded in the carpet industry alone. A UNICEF report estimated that there are 1.2 million children are engaged in the Pakistan carpet industry. A minimum of 250,000 children live and work in brick kilns in complete social isolation. They are totally illiterate and have no hope of escaping from this inferno. In fact these children are bonded labourers, driven into this miserable state by the fact that their entire families have been ‘pawned’ to the owners by virtue of their having pledged their labour in return for so-called ‘advances’ taken, sometimes by their ancestors, which, even after the entire family having toiled for years on subsistence wages in prison-like conditions, is not accounted as repaid.