Nature, Extent and Forms of Child Labour in Nepal
This article provides a general overview of the situation of child labour in Nepal based on the previous different pieces of research on the topic. The paper looks at the differences between various forms of child labour in terms of working conditions - including ‘worst forms of labour' - and of the characteristics of child workers, such as gender, age, literacy, caste, ethnicity, family background, as well as migration as an important factor within a framework of child labour.
Based on the CDPS/ILO estimations, 41.7 per cent of the total child population are involved in labour activities, such as agricultural work, manufacture, plantation, catering, selling, manual labour and in the tourist and travel industry. Among them, altogether over 175 thousand are working in the ‘worst forms' and no less than 30 thousands are in inhumane forms, such as bonded labour in the Kamaiya system, or forced prostitution in which girls are trafficked.
In terms of the general profile of child labourers, gender is seen as an important characteristic, e.g. the proportion of girls is higher by 12 percentage points, although the proportion of boys is higher across all worst forms of child labour. The caste/ethnic composition varies depending on the nature and forms of child labourers and according to the areas where child labour is prevalent. For instance, all bonded labourers are from the Tharu community. Similarly, the Bahun/Chhetri are prevalent in domestic child labour, Tamang - in trafficking and carpet, Dalits - in stone quarries and mining, Magar - in portering, and Newar in brick kilns.
Finally, since almost all of the child labourers originated from rural areas and the destinations where they work are urban areas, migration often part of the process of becoming a child labourer. Migration may be either voluntary or forced; it is a process in which trafficking and debt-bondage can occur. Another form of migration which recently developed, as publicized by print media in Nepal, is characterised by a growing tendency of children moving to Capital City from affected areas as a result of Maoist insurgency. This population moment should not be ignored, and might also play a part in the growth of child labour and with an ever higher share of ‘worst forms of child labour' .