Domestic labour issues

An eight-year-old girl working as a domestic help was rescued after she was seriously injured by her employer. The underage girl was employed at a grocery shop. Why on earth people employ an eight-year-old kid as domestic help? But this is the sad reality. Poverty drives many children to serve as domestic help.

Children from economically and socially backward families are often hired as domestic help. This is a wrong practice. While the families are forced to their children to work, the employers often exploit them. This usually happens in urban and sub-urban centres. There are neither fixed working hours nor proper remunerations for these working children.

According to the International Labour Organisation, child labour refers to any work that deprives children of their childhood and their right to education, health, safety and moral development. Child labour is illegal in Nepal. But despite this, many children aged between five and 17 are employed at various places—from factories to brick kilns to restaurants to homes.

In general, when some families bring children to work at their homes, this is usually hidden behind the façade of “taking care of them and sending them to school in return for the domestic chores they perform”.

Some working children are subjected to violence and torture. We come across various reports on a regular basis of working children facing mental and physical abuse at the hands of their “employers”.

Despite the country having law against child labour, the practice of employing children for household chores and other factory works continues. But due to lack of effective implementation of the law, tens of thousands of children continue to suffer.

A 2016 report on Nepal’s child labour showed that the country had made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

However, children in Nepal perform dangerous tasks in the production of bricks, said the report, adding that children aged between 16 and 17 “are excluded from the protections of the country’s hazardous work list, leaving them vulnerable to the worst forms of child labour”.

While the government needs to work to effectively implement the regulations that protect children and their right to education, health and safety, it is the responsibility of every citizen to allow every child his/ her right to childhood.