- Background of study
The carpet weaving has been in existence from ancient time in Nepal. The culture of hand knitted carpet and blankets have been developed as a cottage industry in Himalayan and Hilly regions from the early period. Such types of cottage industries like weaving Radi, pakhi, (blankets made from wool) still exists in remote village areas, especially in Hill and Himalayan regions. The production of hand-made, local carpet(radhi, pakhi) was made especially for the local consumptions and used to it as a means of economic expenditure of the family. But since last few decades, the nature of this industry has been changed and established as an organized export oriented industry.
The modern or improved technique of carpet weaving came into Nepal along with the Tibetan refugees. In order to provide food and center for the refugees, Jawalakhel Handicraft center was established under the initiation and assistance of Swiss Government and the International Red Cross in 1961. With the establishment of this center, the development of Nepalese carpet industry was accelerated in an organized manner.
According to ILO (K.C., 2002), in the early nineties, the carpet sector was believed to have employed about 250,000 to 300,000 labourers. However, by the mid-nineties, this sector was employing a substantial number of child labourers in this industry. There was a rumor that the child labourers in the carpet sector employed as much as 40 to 50 percent of the total labour force in this sector. The culturally skill based and hand knotted, the high quality Nepalese carpet has succeeded in attracting the western market and also in introducing Nepal to the world. Thus, it contributes foreign exchange, earning and creating the major overseas exportable item in the international trade in Nepal. Mainly in Germany, USA, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, Spain, France, etc. Nepalese carpets are being exported.
The rapid increase of carpet industry and the increasing demand for labourers, particularly cheap labourers have resulted in the large number of child labourers flow from rural areas. There was a rumor that child labourers in carpet sector employed as much as 40 to 50 percent of the total labour force in this sector. (K. C., ILO, 2002).
Generally, a person in a age group of 5-14 years employed for hire or reward in a full time basis and included a self-employed child and child assisting his/her parent in their occupation for two or more hours is known as child labourers in context of Nepal but according to the UN convention on the right of the child, a child means “every human being below the age of 18 years” (Sharma.et.al, 2001).
Children are future leaders and nation buildings. They are seen as active members of communities and societies. Actually, children can be given any shape, it depends on our hands. A child has no sex, no capacity, no politics, and no money. They are innocent, unable to work for earning money and have no kind of concrete decision.
As the morning shows the day, the present situation of the children the future condition of the nation. So, it is necessary to give special attention and care for the development of children. After First World War, the concept of human rights and child rights were introduced and globally nowadays it is accepted that the violation of child rights is considered as violation of human rights. The children have right to entertainment etc. Child labour exploitation in any forms is not allowed and it is considered as criminal and punishable activities. However, in Nepal, most of the children are vulnerable and excluded from various rights.
Nepal is one of the least developed country where most of the people are surviving below the poverty line and child labourers is being recognized as serious problem which deeply rooted in our society. Unmanaged urbanization, migration flow from rural to urban, lack of proper guideline of their parents, social customs, lack of employment, rapid population and weak implementation of government policies etc. are the causes of child labourers.
According to the census 2001, the children population of Nepal, aged 0-14 is 8948587 which is 39 percent of the country’s total population. It shows that the large number of children is occupied by child labourers. ILO has estimated that the carpet industry employs more than 7600 children less than 18 years of age in 794 carpet factories(378 registered and 416 unregistered) in Katthmandu Valley. Out of total 50.1 percent girls are and 49.9 percent are boys’ repectively. Child below the 14 years of age is mostly found in unregistered factories (92 percent of child workers below 14 years). Such as, children represent 12 percent of the total labour force of the carpet factories in Nepal (K.C., 2006).
Majority of the children who are working in carpet industries have low socio-economic condition or status. They have to undergo a period of training before they are qualified to work and earn. During the training period they are not paid, although some of their masters provide them with food and normal amount of money. They do not have control over their salary which is collected by (or sent directly to) the parents, relatives or Thekedar. Children always come to be maltreated by the factory owners and other adult labourers (elder labourers who are working together). Similarly, they are suffering from different problems. The factory environment, lighting and ventilation system is very poor. They are victimized by malnutrition, respiratory related problems, diarrhea, dysentery, etc.