Lalitpur, April 21:
At 19 years of age, life for Sarita Pariyar as a brick kiln worker is hard. Still this teenager from Rolpa has no other options than to toil at the brick kiln to support her family.
She came to Kathmandu with her husband in search of work within months of marrying. The newly-wed couple found work at a brick kiln here after a long search. Pariyar was just 15 years old at the time of her marriage. She now has two children.
The Pariyar couple migrated to Kathmandu in search of work as it was difficult to support their family by tilling a tiny plot back in their village in Rolpa, a rugged mountainous country in mid-west Nepal.
Her husband went to a certain Gulf country for work as the earning at the brick kiln was not enough to support the family. But Sarita is still working at this brick kiln since the last four years eking out a living.
It is observed that the number of young women from remote districts of the country married at an early age and working in the numerous brick kilns in the Kathmandu Valley has been increasing every year.
One of such young woman is Kumari Biswakarma who also hails from Rolpa district. Kumari landed up in one of the brick kilns dotting the outlying belt of the Valley some 12 years back. She had also married at an early age.
Like Pariyar, she has bitter experience working in the brick kiln. For young women like them working in brick kilns, conditions are similar to workers in the 19th century Britain as depicted in Charles Dickens' novels with setting from that time.
"I came here with high hopes. But the work here is not as described by the middleman who brought us here. All that the contractor had promised us was not to be found," Biswakarma shared her bitter experience.
She runs a small tea-shop near the brick kiln where she finds work to support her family.
According to Suman Ghimire who has been studying problems faced by women workers in the brick kilns, more than half the brick kiln workers are women and a majority of them come from remote mountainous villages in the mid-west of the country.
Ghimire also shared that most of these women workers are found to have married at early age and come to Kathmandu with their husbands and families in search of work and finally landed up at brick kilns unable to find work in other sectors which they consider to be more decent.
For instance, over 75 per cent workers at this particular brick kiln on the outskirts of Lalitpur come from Rolpa. Nearly half of them are women and that also below 20 years of age, Ghimire explained.
There are about 50 brick kilns in the Kathmandu Valley alone.