A news story has it that 124 children, found to be working in inhuman conditions, were rescued from different embroidery factories in Bhaktapur the other day. This is a good job initiated in the interest of children, for which the organisations and people involved in this noble initiative must be appreciated. Such efforts must continue in the future too so that children are protected against exploitation and discrimination. Childhood is a state in which all must have the opportunity to be protected and receive adequate health care, entertainment and education. Employing children in labour-intensive work is a violation of the laws of the land as well as universal human rights and child rights. Employing children in hazardous work is an even greater crime, for which one who aids and abets child labour must be punished. The children who were recently rescued from different embroidery factories were found to be working in harsh conditions and had been exploited very badly. Some had been paid a little while others had not been paid at all. This is a serious crime perpetrated against the children who are supposed to be attending school in this tender age. Thus, those who were responsible for employing children must be punished in accordance with the degree of crime they have committed.
Child labour is a global phenomenon and it is more acute in developing countries. As a least developed country, Nepal, too, suffers from this malady, which must be checked and discouraged no matter what. Latest studies have found that there are over 2.4 million child workers in Nepal. These young labourers are working in different sectors, most of whom work in hazardous conditions. In principle, Nepal has expressed full commitment to protect and promote the rights of the child and eliminate child labour. As per its commitment to the protection of the right and interest of the child, Nepal has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and several other UN and ILO conventions that prohibit child labour. In consonance with its international commitment, Nepal has also enacted several laws and announced policies and programmes aimed at eliminating child labour. The government has adopted the policy of providing education to all children of school-going age and declared school education free. Also several other programmers have been launched for better health, growth and development of children including those who are at risk.
Yet, the overall scenario concerning the rights of the child is far from satisfactory, which demands concerted efforts on the part of the government and a meaningful partnership with the civil society to end child labour and fully ensure the rights of the child. If child labour is to be totally eliminated, a holistic approach and an effective partnership between the government and non-governmental sector must be adopted which alone would fully guarantee the rights of the child in Nepal.