Youth Voices

Iqbal Masih – A Great Hero against Child Labor

By Mariam Asif

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Child Labor is very common in our country. Here is a story of a child who worked to eliminate child labor from all around the world.  Iqbal was born in 1983 in a small village near Lahore, Pakistan. He was just four years old when his father sold him into slavery. He had to work twelve hours in a day in a carpet manufacturing company of Pakistan. About half a million children work in Pakistan carpet factories today. Little children wake up early in the morning and make their way towards  their work. It is very sad to see that this is a time for these children to go to school with their bags full of books but unfortunately many children are deprived from this blessing due to lack of awareness about education and poverty. Growth of Iqbal was not good enough due to inadequate nutrition. His height was less than 4 feet and weight was about 60 pounds. Despite of all hard work, he was abused verbally and physically by the owner of carpet factory.

He was so disturbed that he decided to escape from slavery. He tried to ran away but was caught by police. Soon, police officers were bribed and Iqbal was sent back to his wicked owner.  Once again, Iqbal escaped and then joined BLLF (Bonded Labor Liberation Front of Pakistan) with the aim to stop child labor all around the world. He gave freedom to 3000 children and delivered speeches about child labor in the various parts of world.

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Iqbal was confident and a motivating speaker, his talks and courage inspired and helped many bonded children to get rid from slavery. After his visit form America, he was murdered in 1995 in Muritke when he was only 13 years old. His funeral had 800 mourners and his cause lead towards the conception of organization “Free the Children”. United States Congress was greatly inspired from Iqbal’s courage that they announced annual Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of child labor.

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