Lahore – The City of Gardens, February 16, 2014
Iqbal Masih – A Struggle Against Child Labour
Iqbal was born in 1983 in Arshad, a very small, rural village outside of Lahore in Pakistan. He was sold into bondage by his family to pay for his brother’s wedding as they had borrowed 600 rupees from a local employer who owned a carpet weaving business, and in return, Iqbal was required to work as a carpet weaver until the debt was paid off. Every day, he would rise before dawn and make his way along dark country roads to the factory, where he and most of the other children were tightly bound with chains to prevent escape. He would work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, with only a 30-minute break. Iqbal stood less than 4 feet tall and weighed only 60 pounds.
At the age of 10, Iqbal escaped for a second time and later joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) of Pakistan to help stop child labour around the world. Iqbal helped over 3,000 Pakistani children that were in bonded labour escape to freedom, and he made speeches about child labour throughout the world.
He was threatened for his activism and killed at the age of 13.
Numerous charities, schools and organizations in Pakistan and around the world have been established in his name and against child labour and bondage.