CHAPTER ONE - INTRODUCTION
Child labour in Nepal: An introduction
Due to a lack of an uneven distribution of cultivable land, families are forced to find other livelihood opportunities for their survival. As a result there is many (temporary) labour migration of farmers from rural areas to urban areas such as the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, or abroad, with India being the main destination [Thieme 2006:15]. They find work as labourers in industries such as stone quarries, carpet factories, and brick kilns, or in construction.
Children in Nepal work in a wide scale of activities ranging from helping out the family with agricultural activities, which is relatively harmless to the child’s development, to fulltime labour that exposes them to physical and mental dangers. Most important to note is that the majority of children work in the informal sector. In rural areas children work, with their parents or outside their household, in agriculture, animal husbandry, manual labour (pottery, iron smith, basket making, shoemaking, sewing, etcetera), and in construction work. In urban areas children, who are predominantly from rural areas, can be found working as domestic workers; in industries (carpet weaving, embroidery in the garment/textiles industry, brick kilns, stone quarries and mines); as porters in the tourism industry or at markets and bus parks; in restaurants as waiters, helpers, cooks, dancers, and prostitutes; as beggars, rag pickers, and vendors on the streets; and in the transportation sector as ticket collectors and as drivers. Due to the open border with India, children from Nepal are also vulnerable for trafficking and can end up working as sex workers, in circuses, carpet-, embroidery-, garment- and bid industries, road construction, and domestic workers in India. In addition, during the conflicts between Maoists and the army children have also been recruited as soldiers and messengers by the Maoist insurgents. With regard to the number of working children in Nepal, several surveys have been conducted [Suwal et al. 1997b; CBS 1999, 2001, 2004]. However, the estimates vary and are difficult to compare due to the use of different definitions of “work” and “labour”, and the indicators they use [Lieten 2009:64-68]. An ILO supported survey conducted by CDPS [Suwal et al. 1997a; ILO 1998] estimated that there are 2.6 million working children (aged 5-14, irrespective of school attendance status) in Nepal, which is 41.6% of the total number of 6.2 million children in this age group. 1.7 million of them are “economically active”1, which is 26.6% of the total number of children aged 5- 14. Most of them are in the age-group 10-14, with the economic participation of these children being more than three times higher than those of children aged 5-9. Most of them (94.7%) work in the agricultural sector. Other sectors in which these children are found are services, communications, and transportation. 54% of the 1.7 million economically active children are boys, of whom only 14.5% are not going to school. Of the economically active girls, an estimated 26% do not go to school.
Child Labour Legislation in Nepal
According to Nepalese law child labour is prohibited. Several (inter)national laws, rules and conventions endorsed by the Nepalese government indicate a commitment to ensure that children do not have to work. The most important international agreements are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was ratified by Nepal in 1990. Article 32 of the CRC deals specifically with child labour: “States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.” Implementation
The Ministry of Labour and...