Only several days left to my departure. I spend my time by finishing the preparation, includes, researching on the topic which I will work on during summer time in Nepal. Child labor, yes, it is. One time, I had a conversation with some of my friends during lunch break. One of them asked me about my internship, then we started to discuss about child labor. She told me that she used to help her family in the plantation area when she was a child, then she wondered if it’s fall under child labor concept.
If I mention ‘child labor’, what would you imagine?
I suppose the image of scavenging, backbreaking work on a construction site, long hours in a carpet factory, or even child prostitution.
Do you know Charles Dickens’s novels? For me, I’m familiar with Oliver Twist, maybe because I watched the movie. I share the opinion that Dickens’ story about his childhood as a poor boy who worked long hour in a poor condition, partly, shaped the popular image of child labor. Then the question would be whether it’s totally unacceptable for children who live in poverty to work and improve their economic condition. Well, not really improve, even maybe in some cases, to support their family life. I’m not saying that it is acceptable as well.
There are some discussions on child labor concept. Some says light works after school or in school holidays, will be helpful for skill acquisition, while they exclude part-time engagement in such horrendous activities as child prostitution. Some might disagree. This can be a two-hour-lecture only to explain this. Anyway, I’m not going to do it. To make things clearer, I will cite little pieces of international legal instruments regarding child labor. The ILO Convention No. 138/1973 acknowledges children’s participation in economic activity, based on its minimum age, which does not negatively affect their health and development or interfere with education, can be positive. As follow up step on the ILO Convention 138 and Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1999, ILO defines the worst forms of child labor, under the convention no. 182/1999.
So, having in mind those conventions and some articles, I can say that there are some key elements of child labor, such as, age range of the children, exploitation aspect, and time allocation of the work, includes school enrollment. Of course, in the real case, it will include wider and more complicated aspects. I found an interesting and easy-to-read webpage about child labor, you can check it out here.
Have you heard about Haruwa/Charuwa or Kamalhari?
It’s the term for traditional system of bonded labor in Nepal. Big amount of the children suffers from different types of child labor. In Terai area, mid and western region of Nepal, includes Dang district, where many Tharu people live, the practice of kamalhari is extensive. If you want to know more, you can read BASE’s website and previous fellows’ blogs, Adrianne Henck & Karrie Cross.
Photo from Spiegel International
I will leave it that way for now. But for sure, this summer, I will explore the complexity of child labor in real. So, let me take you into my journey in a district called Dang in the western part of Nepal.
Posted By Maelanny Purwaningrum
Posted Apr 25th, 2011