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Friday, 13 June 2014 17:40

Nepal to protect children in labor force

Nepal to protect children in labor force

Bijay Thapa, 14, goes to school every day until 10 in the morning before working for eight hours as a rickshaw driver. Aside from spending for the family needs, Bijay also uses what he earns for his own schooling.

 

Bijay started working on the farm along with his parents at a very young age but moved to Kathmandu just three months ago. He is one of Nepal's estimated 1.6 million children aged 5-17, who have entered the labor force.

Children constitute an integral part of the workforce in both the formal and the informal sector in Nepal, often working alongside their parents in the fields or factory.

On the World Day against Child Labor which falls on June 12, experts said that banning child labor is not the solution to the complex social and economic problem in Nepal.

"In Nepal, some families have little choice other than to allow their children to work. But we are committed to ensure the protection of those children and to eliminate the worst forms of child labor," Uddhav Raj Paudyal, child rights activist and development consultant, told Xinhua.

Bijay is self-employed, and he earns from 10,000-12,000 Nepali rupees a month (about 100 to 120 U.S dollars) which is actually quite a lot, especially for a minor, in the Himalayan nation. He pays less than 10 U.S dollars a month for his rent and less than a dollar a day to "rent" his rickshaw.

This allows him to send a large part of his income to his parents back home while he lives alone and go to school. Bijay relatively enjoys more privileges compared to other child workers but his workload remains too heavy and he is ashamed of telling his classmates about his work.

"I don't want my schoolmates to know that I work as most of them are from well-off families and they would make fun of me," Bijay said.

Legally, children in Nepal aged 14 to 16 are allowed to do "light work" on the condition that it does not harm their development or interferes with their education and should be under the supervision of the competent authorities.

This year, World Day against Child Labor drew attention to the role of social protection in keeping children out of the "child labor trap."

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), social protection enables access to education, health care and nutrition and plays a critical role in the fight against child labor.

Barun Kumar Jha, director at the Department of Labor, told Xinhua that the government of Nepal is planning to extend social protection to low-income households and to ensure that children like Bijay have decent working conditions.

"Child labor is both an economic and social problem. If we don' t solve our national economic issues we will not be able to secure the decrease of the child labor force," Chief Secretary of Nepal Government Lila Mani Poudel said.

Virginia Perez, chief of the Child Protection Section at UNICEF Nepal, said revitalizing and modernization of the industry and the employment sector could contribute to the eradication of child labor in the country.

"We are looking at possibilities through which employers can modernize and make their industries or businesses more effective, so that they won't need to employ children and they will contribute to their education by supporting adults instead," Perez said.

According to Perez, improving children's life requires a coordinated response. Apart from the effective enforcement of legislation and policy, it is also critical to improve the living condition and education of vulnerable children and their families.

 

By – Bibbi Abruzzini

Courtesy – ShanghaiDaily.com

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