Child labourers keep carpet factories running

Kathmandu, August 4:

Children below the age of 16 years have been found working as labourers in carpet factories in Kathmandu, thanks to the conflict that has spurred displacement and emigration of people, including children, from the rural areas.

Data provided by the Nepal Rugmark Foundation (NRF), which has about 70 per cent of the carpet factories and suppliers of Nepal affiliated to it, reveal that number of children working in the factories has gone up. However, the records show that 85 children weaving carpets in these factories were taken out in 2005, while 78 were removed in 2004, 74 in 2003 and only 15 in 2002.

In a recent inspection of the carpet factories in Boudha, inspector at the NRF Bahadure Sherpa found 11-year old Kaili Ghising weaving a carpet. Her elder brother Dawa, who had brought her to Kathmandu from their home Rammechhap, said she had been brought to the city to look after his child. “She learnt to weave while playing around,” he said.

“Children from economically backward families and regions are found to be working in this sector,” Sherpa said.

Aang Babu Sherpa, proprietor of the Bansbari Carpet Udhyog, which is not affiliated to the NRF, however, said that it is not possible for children below 12 years to weave carpets. “Cases of such children working at the factories are accidental. It is due to the government’s inability to implement its child labour policy.” Narayan Bhattarai, programme manager at the NRF, said, “More and more children entered the carpet industry due to the conflict.” The Child Labour Regulation and the Prohibition Act, 2000, bars industries from hiring children below the age of 16 years as labourers.