Child labor finds its way into Bhutan

Child labor is a regrettable-truth worldwide, and Bhutan is party to the social malaise with vey live statistics.

A joint news release from the labor ministry and the UNICEF stated: “There are children in Bhutan, who are deprived of their fundamental rights and this requires attention.  Although, the scenario is not that grim in Bhutan, but, this form of labor does exist in the country.”

According to the Labor Force Survey 2011, nationally as many as 4,400 children aged 13-17 were found to be working outside home. The Bhutan multiplier Indicator Survey shows child labor prevalence at 18.4%, with the proportion of girls being higher than boys. Many of them-86.5%, go to school, but are from poorer families with little or no proper facilities to help them lead a better life.

Many of these children work in the informal sectors as domestic helpers, street vendors and in automobile workshops and restaurants.

Labor Minister, Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi, said the government was deeply committed to doing everything possible for proper upbringing of Bhutan’s children to make them realize their fullest potential, and prevent and eliminate all forms of exploitation and abuse.

He said neither policies, laws, political nor socio economic measures can ever be a comprehensive or a total solution to such problems. “The key to more comprehensive and sustainable solution to end child labor lies in the hands of families, communities, the private sector, civil society, children and the youth themselves,” said the labor minister.

A labor officer, Kinley Dorji said Bhutan was one of the first countries to ratify the convention on the rights of the child and with that, the government was deeply committed to ensure a safe and secure environment for every child.

“A safe haven would be to provide them access to good health, quality education, and protection from any form of violence and exploitation,” said Kinley Dorji.

The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) is in the final stages of completing the mapping and assessment of child protection in Bhutan In order to address the plight of child laborers.

Globally, hundreds of millions of children are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure, and basic freedoms, violating their rights.

Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labor such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labor, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.

Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi said, poverty was the primary cause of child labor and it is common knowledge that children who are compelled to work were those from the disadvantaged sections of the society.

“Children of the rich and the affluent rarely need to work. In poor families which have more number of children, it becomes very difficult to survive on the meager income of one family member.

Small children in such families have to work without a choice for additional incomes to ensure means of survival for the whole family.

Child labor is often invisible and unacknowledged, according to recent International Labor Organization (ILO) global estimates. Around 215 million children worldwide “labor”, with more than half this number involved in its worst forms.

In 2010 the international community adopted a roadmap to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016, stressing that child labor is an impediment to children’s rights and a barrier to economic development and social progress.

The ILO Conventions seek to protect children from exposure to child labor. Together with other international instruments, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they provide an important framework for legislation established by governments and implemented by communities.

“World day without child labor 2012” was marked with the theme, “Human Rights and Social Justice – let’s end Child Labor”.

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