Children look for their share in constitutionRamesh Khatri, 17, lost both his legs when the guest house in Gangabu where he used to work collapsed in the April earthquake.
Ramesh Khatri, 17, lost both his legs when the guest house in Gangabu where he used to work collapsed in the April earthquake. He had arrived from Dailekh to the Capital in search of work two years ago, and supported his family with the money he earned here.
Khatri is currently undergoing treatment in Kathmandu, but worries for his future.
With the promulgation of a new constitution edging closer, Khatri believes that the new statute will not protect children from poor and remote places of he country who enter the labour market below the age of 18.
“I entered the Capital at the age of 15 seeking job to help my family. I don’t know about child rights or labour, the only thing I know is that I need to work in order to survive. I doubt either the state or the new constitution will ever change our plight,” said Khatri at a programme organised by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare on Tuesday to mark Children’s Day.
As per government data, there are 1.62 million child labour in the country out of which 620,000 are involved in ‘dangerous’ jobs. The same data states that more than 1.1 million children have been directly affected by the earthquake increasing risk of these children falling prey to child labour and other abuses.
“Children are the first to be affected by any disaster, that is why we need to be more cautious than ever about making sure they do not fall victims to any form of abuse,” said Tarak Dhital, executive director of Central Child Welfare Board.
According to him, it is important to understand that children have different needs and thus it is necessary to ensure child-friendly reconstruction post earthquake.
“Mentioning about child rights in the new constitution alone will not ensure their rights. What we need is proper implementation. Bare chest children were used in Jumla to protest about demarcation of provinces and two children have already died in protests, but people are silent on it,” said Ritesh Rawal, a 16-year-old 11th grader at Model College.
He further questioned how the political leaders will refrain from using children to gain their vested interests. Nothing will change until we install a system where rights are implemented, he said.