KATHMANDU: Child rights activists today warned that minors were more vulnerable to the worst form of labour, trafficking and child marriage in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Speaking at an interaction on ‘Addressing Child Labour Vulnerability in Post-Earthquake’, organised by Swatantrata Abhiyan in the capital, Tarak Dhital, Executive Director, Central Child Welfare Board under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, said that as there was a high risk of child labour, child trafficking and child marriages after the disaster, the government and other stakeholders should remain on high alert to prevent them.
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“Disasters, ignorance of parents and poverty are the reasons why the children are vulnerable to such crimes,” said Dhital, adding “It is more challenging to combat and prevent such practices in the post-disaster situation, as we were not fully capable of doing so even during the normal situation.”
He suggested that the government address the issues of children orphaned by the earthquakes.
Out of the total deaths caused by the quakes, 30 per cent were children, and 450 of them lost one of the parents, while 78 lost both, said Dhital.
He added that some non-government organisations were separating the children from their parents in the name of providing them education.
Milan Dharel, Executive General Secretary, Swatantrata Abhiyan, said, “We have failed to identify the risk factors and make adequate efforts to safeguard the interests and rights of the children.”
According to him, 20.6 per cent of children from rural areas are in child labour and 8 per cent of them are in hazardous forms of labour. “Sindhupalchowk, Dhading, Nuwakot, Kavre and Dolakha are the supply hub for child labour in Kathmandu. These district are among the districts worst-hit by the earthquake. Therefore, the number of children forced into child labour could increase in the coming days if necessary steps are not taken immediately,” he added.
He added that intervention in temporary shelters of quake survivors, comprehensive recovery and relief actions, and reorganising, strengthening and mobilising local child protection system were lacking to address the problem.
Other child rights activists said the donors should support the families, not just their children, so that they could stay with parents and get all basic needs, love and care from their families in the post-quake situation and help decrease child labour in urban areas.