Child labor refers to any work that deprives children of their childhood and their right to education, health, safety, and moral development.
In 2017, Nepal made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The government passed the Labor Act, which prohibits forced labor and sets penalties for forced labor violations. The government also began implementing a child labor monitoring system in some municipalities and implemented the first nationally representative survey examining forced labor among adult and child workers.
So far government efforts have to be appreciated for declining of child labor at the rate of 100,000 every year. However, Nepal still accounts for 1.6 million children between (5-17 years) in child labor. Of these 621,000 are estimated to be engaged in hazardous work. Estimates suggest that 60 percent of children in hazardous work are girls ( 373,000).
In Kathmandu Valley alone, an estimated 11-13,000 girls and women are working in the adult entertainment industry including cabin restaurants, dance bars, dude songs restaurants, and massage parlors, of which many are forced to engage in sexual activities and are vulnerable to trafficking. Nearly half of all entertainment workers entered the industry before the age of 18. Similarly, the emergence of new sectors like the adult entertainment and sex industry, street vending and highway hawking, (including trans-border petty smuggling), brick, home-based work, jari (embroidered fabrics) manufacturing and motorbike and bicycle repair in various areas in the country have compounded the risk and negative effects to children.
There are several factors responsible for child labor which deteriorates the fundamental identity of the child as human beings. Primarily the causes are poverty, illiteracy, and inadequate education, insufficient legal and employment structures, little knowledge and awareness of society and parents, social and cultural norms and practices including gender-related discrimination, lack of adequate child protection measures including legal policies, framework, and their enforcement are all major factors.
There are also some limitations experienced on the government’s side. The Department of the Labor’s budget, the number of labor inspectors, and available resources and training are all insufficient for adequately enforcing labor laws, including those related to child labor. Similarly, the government lacks a policy that addresses all relevant forms of child labor, including hazardous child labor, forced child labor, and the use of children in illicit activities.
Most seriously, there is also no clear data on the worst form of child labor. Primarily, girls child as domestic workers are mostly hidden. Similarly, it is very tough to get access to the girls working in the entertainment industry. Likewise, the statistics of the children from the poor economic condition, ex-bonded laborers and landless people are engaged in cross-border migration for season migration is hard to figure out.
Considering the situation, there is a high need to design and implement the evidence-based project. This project will identify the key problems and design an appropriate program. The project should be designed in consultation with concerned government and non-government stakeholders keeping the child labor in the center.
This project will deal with children who originate from remote rural areas and who have migrated to urban areas where they are engaged in hazardous forms of child labor. The analysis and study look at both the pull and push factors. It will figure out the situation of children in the worst forms of child lab our, background and home environment of working children in terms of what has pushed/pulled them into work? Similarly, the assessment will also uncover why these children engaged in these worst forms of child labor rather than in other types of work? In addition to it, the research cum evidence intervention will also identify the solutions the governmental and non-governmental organizations at policy and grassroots level, to take all children out of the worst forms of child labor.
Therefore, the project will provide strategic direction for the operations of the project aimed to eliminate the worst form of child labor in the project areas. Voice of Children will intensify its efforts to develop coherent and comprehensive approaches to abolish child labor in project areas.