Kathmandu, April 2
In a gross violation of existing laws, brick kilns in Bhaktapur continue to employ children as child labourers.
As many as 49 brick kilns operating in Changunarayan Municipality and Suryabinayak Municipality are found to have violated the Labor Act and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, which strictly prohibits forced labour and child labour.
According to a participatory evidence-based action research conducted by Child Protection Centre and the Institute of Human Rights Communication, eight brick kilns in Suryabinayak and 41 others in Changunarayan have employed children as child labourers.
There are 64 brick kilns in Bhaktapur. Of them, 12 are in Suryabinayak and 52 in Changunarayan.
On a positive note, there are also some brick kilns that do not employ child labours. Such kilns number around 15 and are declared child labour free zone.
The report said the children working at brick kilns often became the victims of child marriage, defamation and sexual violence, among other social problems. Accidental death of children is also quite common at brick kilns, as per the report.
“We found that a number of girls got married at the very early age, and became mothers before 18 years of age,” said Dipesh Bishankhen with the Child Protection Centre.
In the same way, two children drowned in a pit dug to produce bricks in the fiscal 2018/19. According to the data provided by Metropolitan Police Range, Bhaktapur, 12 children drowned in the pits dug at brick kilns in the last two years.
Bishankhen said all the brick kilns hired migrant workers from different districts, especially Kavre, Sindhupalchwok, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Salyan, Dang, Rukum, Rolpa.
“Those migrant workers are from the deprived section of the society who migrate to Kathmandu in search of seasonal employment. They are paid in advance by their employers. They come accompanied by their children. Most of the parents ultimately employ their children in the brick industry,” he said.
There are also some parents who instead send their children to public schools. A few brick kiln owners have established child care centres. However, such centres lack proper sanitation, toilet and drinking water facilities.
Deputy Mayor of Suryabinayak Municipality, Juna Basnet said the municipality had been inspecting brick kilns in the area and would declare them child-labour-free zone soon.
A version of this article appears in print on April 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.