59,000 kids toil in brick kilns

Himalayan News Service

Lalitpur, July 22:

As many as 59,000 children are working in 900 brick kilns in 22 districts of five development regions, according to a survey on ‘Child Labour in Brick Kilns in Nepal’. Percentagewise, children constitute 39 per cent of the labour force sweating in brick kilns, the survey, conducted by the Concern for Children and Environment-Nepal (CONCERN), states. Thanks to unhealthy working environment, 85 per cent of these children suffer from respiratory problems, tuberculosis, muscle pain, joint pain, cough, fever, backache joint pain, and visual defect. Presenting the report, Jiyam Shrestha, programme manager, CONCERN, said while 76

per cent of the child labourers were aged between 12 and 16 years, 24 per cent were aged between six and 12 years.

“As per the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 2056, it is illegal to make the children (aged above 14) work over six hours a day and 36 hours a week, but 36 per cent of them work for 12 hours a day and 28 per cent work for nine to 10 hours a day.” Only 30 per cent of the children earn Rs 1,000 every month,” the survey states, adding: “29 per cent and 27 per cent of the children earn up to Rs 900 and 700.” The monthly salary of 13 per cent of these children is a meagre Rs 300. Only 39 per cent of these children get their wages, the survey says, adding that the salaries of the remaining children are handed over to parents, siblings, relatives, and employers. Sixty-nine per cent of these children are school dropouts.

Genderwise, girls make up one third of the child labourers. Stating that favourable working environment should be created for these children, Bijaya Sainju, the executive chairperson of the CONCERN, said: “Contribution of these children needs to be recognised since we are not in a position to say no to child labour.” Brick kilns, which operate from September to April, provide seasonal employment opportunities.