Suffer the childrenGovt needs to monitor the prevalence of child labour and implement laws
Naresh Chaudary, a 12-year old, has been working in the Aaptari-Mugling road expansion project at Chitwan since the last one month. His work consists of pulling a trolley filled with sand continuously for many hours. That Nepal has a law prohibiting child labour does not seem to have made a difference for children like Naresh.
Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that children as young as eight years old work in various brick kilns around Nepal. Additionally, according to the report by World Education and Plan Nepal titled ‘Rapid Assessment of Children in the Brick Industry in Nepal 2012’, around 28,000 children work in registered
brick kilns around the country. The carpet industry is no different—it employs around 10,000 children as per UN estimates. Furthermore, one in every 19 houses in Kathmandu has a child domestic worker according to a recent study conducted by a child rights organisation, Children-Women in Social Service and Human Rights.
The government is very much aware of this grim situation. According to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare there are about 1.6 million child workers in the country, out of which 620,000 children are involved in perilous works such as mining and construction, transport and freight handling, agriculture and fisheries, domestic work and manufacturing. , There is a Child Labour (Prevention and control) Act 2000, to curb this problem. Child rights activists, however, argue that the government has not only failed to implement the Act but to also provide compensation to the children. Weak monitoring by the government has also not helped either.
The bigger challenge is that tackling child labour requires behavioural change. But as child labour is still largely accepted by most Nepalis, it is difficult to address this issue. Even so, rigorous campaigns against such practices, especially regarding keeping children as domestic workers would help. People should be encouraged to speak against such practices and lodge a complaint to the police if they witness instances of child labour. One exemplary plan that can be replicated in other parts of the country is the ‘Green Flag Movement’, which was initiated by an NGO in collaboration with the Lalitpur-Sub Metropolitan City last year. Every household and all form of business were asked to put up a green flag if they did not have any child working in their premises. Ward No 14 and 21 of Lalitpur have been declared as child labour free zones through this movement. In addition, there is a need to make an effort to understand the nexus between child labour and poverty and devise new laws at the earliest.