Chilling Facts of Child Labour in Nepal

Introduction to Child Labour

Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful (International Labour Organisation, 2012). Child labour is prohibited by law in various countries. However, all works done by a child is not considered as child labour. There are certain works such as: works of child artist, simple household duties of a child, trainings and other duties expected of a child which aren’t considered as child labour. Child labour is a serious crime as children are the future of a nation and tampering their childhood can lead to serious mental as well as physical damage to children. This puts a nation’s future in jeopardy. Therefore, the problem is child labour should be taken seriously by a nation.

Current Situation of Child Labour in Nepal

Child workers are employed extensively in Nepal. Child workers generally refer to children aged 5-17 years who work during the reference week or have some attachment to a job. According to Nepal Labour Survey 2008, about 2.9 million children in Nepal are involved in agricultural activities, followed by other activities such as fetching water (about 0.8 million) and collecting water (about 0.6 million). Other unspecified activities also involve significant number of working children. It is estimated that in Nepal 1.60 million children in the age group 5-17 years fall under the category of child labour. This constitutes about 50.9 percent of all working children. Working children in Kathmandu valley are relatively more exposed to hazardous conditions than in other parts of the country, and there is a tendency for some of the more hazardous industries, such as carpet-making, to employ such young child workers.
Causes of Child Labour
Child labor persists even though laws and standards to eliminate it exist. Current causes of global child labor are similar to its causes in the U.S. 100 years ago, including poverty, limited access to education, repression of workers’ rights, and limited prohibitions on child labour.

Poverty and unemployment levels are high.

Poor children and their families may rely upon child labor in order to improve their chances of attaining basic necessities. More than one-fourth of the world's people live in extreme poverty, according to 2005 U.N. statistics. The intensified poverty in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America causes many children there to become child laborers.
Access to compulsory, free education is limited.
In 2006, approximately 75 million children were not in school, limiting future opportunities for the children and their communities. A 2009 report by the United Nations estimated that achieving universal education for the world's children would cost $10-30 billion -- about 0.7% - 2.0% of the annual cost of global military spending.

Laws and enforcement are often inadequate.

Child labor laws around the world are often not enforced or include exemptions that allow for child labor to persist in certain sectors, such as agriculture or domestic work. Even in countries where strong child labor laws exist, labor departments and labor inspection offices are often under-funded and under-staffed, or courts may fail to enforce the laws. Similarly, many state governments allocate few resources to enforcing child labor laws.

The global economy intensifies the effects of some factors.

As multinational corporations expand across borders, countries often compete for jobs, investment, and industry. This competition sometimes slows child labor reform by encouraging corporations and governments to seek low labor costs by resisting international standards.

My Take

As it is clear that child labour is a serious issue in underdeveloped countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Kenya and others, serious actions should be taken in order to minimise its effects and uproot this problem. Employing children in hazardous activities is like stealing their precious childhood. Instead of molding their future, children are molding clays, washing dishes, serving food, working in factories and are involved in other hazardous activities.
The current laws on child labour are too lenient and the situation isn’t regularly monitored. If this can improved then child labour could be controlled upto certain extent. Moreover, raising awareness among people regarding hazards of child labour and social boycotting of people who are involved in child labour could also be effective measures which could be employed to remove child labour from grass root level in society. Most importantly, more time, effort and money should be allocated on uplifting the living standard of poor people.
In a nutshell, it is a shame that we are still facing the social problem of child labour and maximum effort should be concentrated to rectify this problem.
Ayushi Bista, BoSS 2016 Batch

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