06/17/2013, 00.00
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Caritas Nepal against slave-like child labour

by Kalpit Parajuli
Nepali law bans child labour under the age of 14, but children are the most sought after domestic workers. Torture and abuse often go along with the job, especially if children spend too much time studying. For Caritas, children's rights should be respected, including the "right to practice one's own religion".

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A report by the Children and Women in Social Service and Human Rights (CWISH) found that most domestic workers in Nepal are aged between 10 and 14 years even though the minimum age for work under the law is 14. CWISH is an NGO that cares for street kids and fights against child labour and the sexual exploitation of children. Caritas Nepal recently held a workshop to discuss the problem, attended by more than 200 people, including Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

The CWISH survey is based on interviews with 347 child workers, 234 girls and 113 boys. Of these, about 58 per cent said they worked because of their families' economic hardships.

Some 68 per cent of them said they wanted to go home, and only 28 per cent said they wanted to continue working, perhaps at a new job.

Altogether, 62 per cent said they wanted to continue studying. However, CWISH officials said that very few of them receive an adequate education. In most cases, employers enrol the children, but the latter "are unable to attend it on a regular basis," said Pradeep Dangol, a CWISH official.

"They often stay away whenever their masters need them," he said. "And if they spend too much time with books, they are often forced to leave school." What is more, "almost all of them endure torture and abuse."

"Treating domestic workers with respect," said Fr Pius Perumana, director of the local Caritas, "is more a question of justice than charity. The right to practice one's own religion is one of the freedoms that are guaranteed and that should be respected."

The 2000 Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act bans the employment of minors under the age of 14 years.

Under the Act, employers are required to respect the basic rights of their young employees, including the right to study and, in case of orphans, the right to have a home.

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