Child Labor

12th June: World Day Against Child Labor


The data and information in this article are taken from the International Labor Organization’s site. The article is based on the latest statistics i.e 2021

What is child labor?

International Labor Organisation defines the term”child labor” as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:

  • is mentally, physically, socially, or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or
  • interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

However, all type of work done by a child is not to be considered as child labor. It depends on the age, the type of work done, the total hours worked, and the condition under which the work is being done. In simple terms, child labor refers to the work done by a child which is both negative and detrimental to their various dimensions of health.

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How old were you when you first started to work?

Was it legal? Did you fall under Child labor age ?

Well, According to ILO minimum age convention (C138) of 1973, child labor refers to any work performed by

  • children under the age of 12,
  • non-light work done by children aged 12–14, and
  • hazardous work done by children aged 15–17.

June 12 is celebrated as World Day Against Child Labor. This day was first launched by ILO in 2002.
Each Year, June 12, Anti-child labor Day brings together millions of people from all around the world to focus our attention on the root cause of child labor and the necessary efforts required to eliminate it.

12th June: World Day Against Child Labor

However , all types of work done by a child is not to be considered as child labor that need to be eliminated. If children’s or adolescent’s participation in that said work doesn’t hamper or affect their health, education or in any way affect their personal development then, that is generally regarded as something positive.

It is okay for them to participate in some activities like helping someone around the house or earning some pocket money after school hours or during holidays. These type of activities actually helps children in developing various skills and experience and be more productive from a young age.

What are the forms of child labor? The worst form.

The worst forms of child labor involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age.

  • all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
  • the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
  • the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
  • work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Hazardous child labour

According to ILO, hazardous child labor is work in dangerous or unhealthy conditions that could result in a child being killed, or injured or made ill as a consequence of poor safety and health standards and working arrangements. It can result in permanent disability, ill health and psychological damage. Hazardous labor activities includes

  • work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse;
  • work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces;
  • work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads;
  • work in an unhealthy environment which may, for example, expose children to hazardous substances, agents or processes, or to temperatures, noise levels, or vibrations damaging to their health;
  • work under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.

Child labor in Nepal

Child Labor and its worst form is in particular have emerged as a problem of immense global proportion and Nepal is no exception. Despite some reduction globally there are still 225 million children in prohibited child labor, of which a staggering number of 115 million are exposed to hazardous work. The picture in Nepal is somewhat similar.

Below is the pdf file attached to the Child Labor Statistics on Nepal in 2021.

In summary of the above attached statistics,

Of the total of 7.7 million children between 5-17 years of age in Nepal, an estimated 3.14 million (40.4%) children are working (in employment), the great majority in rural areas.

Two third of working children are below the age of 14.

4.5% of primary school-aged children are out of school.

Of the total number of working children. half (1.6 million children) fall into the category of child labor, which is likely to interfere with the child’s education to be harmful to the child’s health or other dimensions of development.

621,000 children are estimated to be engaged in hazardous work.

More girls(48%) than boys (36%) work, and 60% of children in hazardous works are girls.

In Kathmandu Valley, an estimated 11-13,000 girls and women are working in the ” night entertainment industry” (cabin, restaurants, dance bars, dohori restaurants, and massage parlors) of which many are forced to engage in sexual activities and are vulnerable to trafficking. Nearly one-half of all entertainment workers enter the industry before the age f 18

12th June: World Day Against Child Labor

The statistics suggest :

Though child labor is declining almost at the rate of 100,000 every year, Nepal still accounts for 1.1 million children between (5-17 years) in child labor. Of these 222,493 are estimated to be engaged in hazardous work. The agriculture sector accounts for more than 85% of the total child labor in Nepal.

12th June: World Day Against Child Labor

Hazardous Child Labor
(Nepal Standard Industrial Classification)

In Nepal, hazardous work in which the employment of children is prohibited is defined in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 2000 as paid work in occupations identified as being high–risk. The hazardous activities are:

  • Service workers and shop market sales workers
  • Travel attendants and related workers
  • Housekeeping and restaurant services workers
  • Personal care and related workers
  • Craft and related trades workers
  • Miners, shot firers, stone cutters, and carvers
  • Painters, building structure cleaners, and related trades workers
  • Metal molders, welders, sheet–metal workers, structural–metal preparer
  • Blacksmiths, toolmakers, and related trades workers
  • Precision workers in metal and related materials
  • Potters, glassmakers, and related trades workers
  • Handicraft workers in wood, textile, leather, and related materials
  • Printing and related trades workers
  • Food processing and related trades workers
  • Pelt, leather, and shoemaking trades workers
  • Plant and machine operators and assemblers
  • Mining and mineral–processing plant operators
  • Metal–processing–plant operators
  • Glass, ceramics, and relative plant operators
  • Chemical–products machine operators
  • Rubber and plastic products machine operators
  • Elementary occupations
  • Street vendors and related workers
  • Shoe cleaning and other street services elementary occupations
  • Domestic and related helpers, cleaners, and launderers
  • Building caretakers, windows, and related cleaners
  • Garbage collectors and related laborers
  • Mining and construction laborers
  • Manufacturing laborers transport laborers and freight handlers
12th June: World Day Against Child Labor
Prevalence of children working in hazardous sector

Structures to Eliminate Child Labor

On National Level

  • Child Labor Elimination Selection (CLES)
  • Ministry Of Labor ANd Employment(MOLE)
  • High-Level National Steering Community Under MOLE
  • Anti-trafficking Integracy Coordination Gropu (IACG)
  • Child Rights desk of national human rights commission 
  • Ministry of woman, children as well as social welfare(MWCSW )
  • Central child welfare board(CCWB)

On Local Level

  • 10 Labor offices( Jhaoa, Morand, Dhanusa, Parsa, Makawanpur, Kathmandu, Kaski, Rupandekhi, Bake, Kailai)
  • Women and Children office in 75 districts
  • District Child Welfare Boards in 75 districts
  • Formation of Child Protection and Promotion Committee in 1051 VDCs.
  • Formation of Child club all over the country.
  • Juvenile benches in 30 districts.

Promotion of Child Helpline No. 1098 and Toll-Free No.104

12th June: World Day Against Child Labor

Child Labor: Causes

Causes

Children from higher wealth index households have a lower probability of being child laborers and higher probability of attending school, suggesting that poverty is one of the important factors to cause child labor.

Policy implications

Government of Nepal should strategize and implement economic measures to address and curb the country’s extreme poverty, and raise the standard of living

Families with higher number of siblings below the age of 5 have a higher probability of older children being engaged as child laborers and not attending school

Any financial packages and assistance from the government to the households with the higher child dependency will likely ease financial pressure

Children who spend more time collecting water are more likely to engage in child labour.( Due to the less accessibility of water in various parts of Nepal)

Provision of easily accessible water, either through the effort of private, governmental or non-governmental organizations could help mitigate this problem.

Dalit and Janajati groups have higher child labor prevalence. ( this falls under the child labor difference due to ethnicity)

Empowering and improving the living standards of these communities is important to curb child labor.

The agriculture sector engages the highest share of child labor in Nepal

It is crucial that technological changes take place in the agriculture sector substituting child labor

12th June: World Day Against Child Labor
Happy children

Conclusion

Child Labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both the poverty and child labor to the end of time.

Grace Abbott

Children are the bundle of joy. And this joy is contagious. They should be taken care of. They should be fed and educated properly, for the positive development of any individual, society, community and the nation itself.