Child labour still prevalent in PokharaNearly 400 children were employed as workers in Pokhara in the last fiscal year 2018/19, data shows.
A 12-year old girl from Dhading does the dishes outside an eatery in Nayabazar, Pokhara. According to her, she has been working at the eatery for the last three years. In Newroad, Pokhara, a 13-year-old girl does the laundry for her employer. She spends her days doing household chores.
These are just two examples of children working to earn a living in Pokhara Metropolitan City. Although various government and non-governmental organisations have launched campaigns to eliminate child labour, the effectiveness of the campaigns is questionable.
“I want to go to school, but I will starve to death if I don’t work,” said the 12-year-old girl in Nayabazar. She said her relatives helped her find a job because of her family’s poor financial condition.
Alina Shrestha, the chairperson of Child Forum in Pokhara Metropolis, admitted that anti-child labour campaigns have remained ineffective in the metropolis.
“We know that anti-child labour campaigns haven’t been as effective as we had expected. We plan to form child clubs to eliminate child labour from the metropolis,” Shrestha said.
Preeti Pandey of Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry said no one can force children below 14 years of age to work.
“Children above the age of 14 can work after receiving a certificate from the labour office,” Pandey said. “These children are allowed to work for only six hours a day, and they must get a day off every week.”
Damu Adhikari, the chairman of the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said his office runs counselling centres for children.
“Employers should provide both work and education opportunities to such children,” said Adhikari.
Chief District Officer Ramesh Kumar KC said the local unit should be responsible for eradicating child labour in the metropolis.
“We will help the local unit to take action against child abusers,” said KC.
The then Pokhara Sub Metropolis had declared to make Pokhara a child-friendly city in 2018. However, 360 children were employed as workers in Pokhara in the last fiscal year, according to the data of the metropolis.
Nirmala Sharma, chief of the Social Division at Pokhara Metropolis, said his office is preparing a working guideline to declare Pokhara a child-friendly city.