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Child Labour in The Brick Industries


Child Labour in The Brick Industries

Chapter I


1.1 General Background of the Study

Child labour remains a serious problem in the world today. According to recent estimates, 218 million children between ages 5 to 17 world wide are child labourers. This excludes the activities of children 12 years and above who are working only a few hour a day in permitted light work and the activities of children 15  years and above who are working in non-hazardous sectors. Of these, 126 million children are involved in the worst forms of child labour. The largest number of child labourers – roughly 122 million –aged 14 and below are in the Asia-Pacific Region (ILO, 2006: 1).

Child labour remains a major challenge for the Nepalese society. According to the National Living Standard Survey (NLSS) 2003/04, it was estimated that there were 1.83 million working children in Nepal. Based on the NLSS, it can be estimated that close to a million of working of the working children aged between 5 and 14 years were categorized as child labourers. According to The Rising Nepal “Out of an estimated 3.6 million child labourers, 32,000 children are involved in stone quarries, 72,000 are working in restaurants/teashops, 46,000 are serving as child porters, 17,000 in mechanical works and 60,000 children are employed in brick kilns,” from CONCERN Nepal (The Rising Nepal, 4th July, 2006).

Poverty is the main cause of child labour around developing countries. When a family is poor every one has to work, even extra contribution help. But many children work because of the lack of their opportunities. School might be unavailable, independent, or just to expensive (UNDP, 1993).

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world  where poverty is widespread in Nepal. According to Nepal Living Standard Surveys (NLSS), in 2003-04, 31 percent of population was poor in Nepal. Out of total population according  to 2001 census, 24.2 percent children age group 0-4, 28.3 percent age group 5-9, 26.2 percent age group 10-14 and 21.0 percent age group from 15-19. Education is one  of the fundamental means for all alleviating poverty and bringing improvement in the standard of living through different socio-economic activities. In the context of Nepal, since the illiteracy rate was  45.9 percent in 2001, the resolution implies that illiteracy rate should be reduced drastically to meet the target endorsed by national and international authorities (CBS, 2003)

According to the census 2001, out of the total population of 24.5 million, 52 percent consists of children  below 18 years of age. Lack of fertile and irrigated land, illiterate large families, torment discrimination, present conflict problems and deprivation of education are some factors leading children and parents to urban areas in pursuit of economic opportunities and safer surroundings.

In brick kiln sector, as in others, children work for a meager hard-earned sum as parents prefer their children to work at a tender age rather than enrolling them in expensive private schools or educating them in government schools (CONCERN, 2005).

Child labour is not a new phenomenon in a agriculturally dominant country like Nepal. It is part of the feudal economy, children have played a significant role in the family subsistence. Fetching water, collecting firewood, grazing cattle, carrying after children and supporting parents in the fields are the most common works that children in the rural areas perform. In addition, mainly a family bread winner working as domestic servants in the homes of village, merchants. The migration of children to urban areas has been tremendously. Increasing these days and this has led to the increase of child labour in the urban areas. Industries like carpet, garments, confectioneries. Brick kilns and stone quarries are employing many children as they are meek and uncomplaining and a cheap source of labour. The ratio of household and domestic child labour in Kathmandu is street children: mainly beggars, ragpickers, street vendors and workers in sweet shop restaurants and bars are also very squatter areas has also very common in the cities. The rising number of slums and squatter areas has also contributed of the child labour population (Pradhan, 1995: 40).

Governments as well as international development agencies have started to focus on the welfare of children. The world summit for children held in 1990 epitomized this realization and reaffirmed the collective commitment to change the situation. Nepal is also heading towards the elimination of child labour. The effort to improve the situation of child labourers in Nepal dates back to 1989, when Nepal signed the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child. The constitution of Nepal, 1990 reinforces this effort by guaranteeing the rights of children against exploitation. It prohibits the employment of minors in any hazardous work in factories or mines. Combating child labour has become an essential element of the national development plan. Nepal ratified the ILO Minimum Age Convention (No. 138) in May 1997 and the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (No. 182) in September, 2001.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The history of brick production in Nepal is as old as Nepal’s civilization. The production and use of bricks for construction purposes came into vague along with southern and northern neighbours India and China. This building style gained popularity especially in the southern plains of the terai and Kathmandu valley, both places that stone and boulders were not readily available. Bricks have been a part of Nepal’s art and architecture right from the beginning and continue even today, often used as a decorative façade in addition to building to show social prestige and concern for preserving the heritage of Nepal. Ancient and historic temples, places and monasteries incorporating brick are testimony to a long history and rich part (CONCERN, 2005: 6).

Child labour is a worldwide phenomena in the world. Most of the developing countries are suffered form the problem of child labour than developed countries. Nepal is a developing country, therefore it is unable to escape from the problem of child labour. In Nepal, child labour has become widespread phenomenon. Many children are being pushed into labour market as a part of family survival strategy. Children are found to be working as an integral part of the family farming workforce in the agriculture economy of Nepal.

Poverty is the main factor of child labour because if a family is very poor and is unable to afford for their food, cloth and shelter for everyone, then all the number of family have to work for living. But many children also work because their stepmother or father do not accept them easily and they can’t tolerate their domestic violence, so they have to run a way form their home. And it is the main  factor of a child to be labourers. These children have to work form their childhood for living. Lack of other opportunities like education, good health, food and other facilities are also reasons for them to work from their early age. In most of the cases, the schools are far form their reach, are unavailable, discriminating behaviour of teachers and other children, in adequate or just too expensive (UNDP, 1993).

Hazardous form of child labour, detrimental to a child’s development, in time has a negative affect on the overall development of a country. Today’s children are the people who will build nations in the future. When children are denied education and other rights and opportunities, they cannot grow as able, skilled and educated citizens of a country. In this way, child labour is equally harmful to the child as well as to a nation and its development process. Many sectors involve child labour that, in itself, is exploitative and in direct violation of the rights of the child.

Child labour is rampant in Nepal. It is estimated that over 2.6 million children are working as wage labourers in different sectors of our economy. Some sectors are more hazardous and risky, where children are even more vulnerable in terms of health, physical growth and safety. However, the use of child labour continues to exist even in sectors considered most hazardous. An estimated 34 percent of the total brick kiln labour force are child workers. Thousands of children work as wage or bonded labourers in the brick kilns of Nepal, some for years and  others newcomers. There are a number of documented reasons for children working in the brick kilns as labourers, their conditions often unsatisfactory in terms of wage, health and safety, working and living conditions and more (CONCERN, 2005: 12).

Brick kiln industry is considered as the most hazardous work place especially for children. It is also the most labour intensive industries which absorbs the great amount of child labour in Nepal. Children engaged in these industries have to face various hazards like injuries due to falls and falling objects, exposure to harmful dust and noise, extreme weather condition and carrying heavy weight and load.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to analyze the socio-economic and working condition of the child labourers in brick kiln industries of Bhaktapur district. The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To examine the socio-economic conditions of children and their families in brick kiln industries.
  2. To examine the working condition environment and factors responsible for their migration process.
  3. To assess the nature and causes of exploitation and hazards faced by child workers in brick kiln industries of Bhaktapur district.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Nepal is an agricultural country with a few small townships and a large number of scattered small villages. Majority of Nepalese people are deprived of such fundamental rights as pure drinking water, health services, schooling, electricity, telecommunications, roads and transportation. Over 65.6 percent Nepalese people depend on agriculture for their livelihood (INSEC, 2001).

Studies on child labour have been carried out in other sectors but few of such studies have focused on child labour in the brick kilns. It is hoped that this study could be the basis for further research and it is also hoped that the findings would be useful in making policies and implementing rules and laws related to the elimination of child labour in Nepal. The outcome would then be of immense value to the government and non-governmental organizations concerned with child labour at various levels.

1.5 Limitations of the Study

This study is limited to a defined geographical area covering only a small portion of the population. So the generalization of the research may not be equally applicable to other parts of the country. This study was done over a short period of time and therefore has limitations in terms of time that was spent with each child interviewed. The present study represents only the child labourer who are under the 18 years of age working in the brick kiln industries in Bhaktapur district.

1.6 Organization of the Study:

This study is divided into seven chapters. The first chapter introduce general background of the study, statement of the problem, objectives, significance and limitation of the study. The second chapter presents the literature review which includes, the define child, definition of child labour and child work, minimum age approach, child right, factors responsible for child labour, different sectors of child labour and consequences of child labour. The third chapter deals with the research methodology applied to this study including the study area, sample size, nature of data and techniques of data collection. Chapter four presents the socio-economic characteristics of brick kiln child labours. In the fifth chapter reveals the working condition, exploitation and perception of child workers. The sixth chapter presents the case study of five children working in different brick factory of Bhaktapur district. Finally, the seventh chapter provides summary and conclusion.


Chapter II

Literature Review

2.1 Defining Child

There is no universal definition of a child. In many countries a child is defined in terms of age limits, which differs with various activities. United Nations Children’s Fund declares, “age limits are a formal reflection of society’s judgement about the evolution of children’s capacities and responsibilities” (UNICEF, 1997).

The Nepal Labour Act 1992 and Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS, 1995) define a child as a person below the age of 14 years. The children’s act 1992 definition of a child applies to someone who is below the age of 16 years. The UNCRC (1989) defines children as “all person under 18, unless by law majority is attained at an early age. “According to the ILO proposed convention (1999)” no person under the age of 18 is to be in worst form of child labour.”

2.2 Defining Child Work and Child Labour

Child labour: For the sake of economic benefits either own or familial survival. It is of two types: non-hazardous and hazardous works. Hazardous is harmful for their healthy upbringings from the aspects of life like physical, mental/psychological and social. Hazardous works (in article 3 of convention 182) of ILO are defined as follows:

  • All forms slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict,
  • The use, procurement or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production or pornography or pornographic purposes,
  • The use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in international treaties,
  • Work which, by its vary nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

Child works: Process of socialization as providing helping hand in family activities without compromising schooling.

There is no universal accepted definition of child labour. However, all agree that child labour harms and exploits children physically, mentally, morally, or by blocking access to education International Conventions adopted by the United Nations and the International Labour Organization define child as any one below the age of 18, and child labour as some type of work performed by children below the age 18. ILO conventions define appropriate minimum age of work as age 15 years (14 years in developing nations). The definition of the worst “worst” forms of work applies to all children under age 18 years. Save the children Alliance views that different responses are appropriate for different forms of work and different working children and suggests not be distinguish between child labour and child work on the basis of harmful and non-harmful forms of work and use the term child work to refer to all forms of child work, by identifying different degrees of harm where necessary. Governments, adding to the confusion, do not always use 18 as the cut off point for defining a “child”.

UNICEF does not object to child work as against exploitative and oppressive child labour as mentioned in 1997 report as children’s work needs to be seen as happening along a continuum, with destructive or exploitative work at one end and beneficial work-promoting or enhancing children’s development without interfering with their schooling, recreation and rest at the other. And between these two poles are vast areas of work that need not negatively affect a child’s development (UNICEF, 1997).

ILO accepts light works for children after 13 years of age in genetal and 12 years in developing countries if it does not harm with children’s development and education. Otherwise, children are not allowed to work before age of 15 years.

Speaking in broader sense, major child right organizations seem to have accepted the term child ‘work’ as non objectionable, light work without hampering right to education and future development, and the child labour more objectionable in terms its exploitative nature and harmful condition (Policy review on child labour and education, 2006: 3).

Similarly, there are two terms: ‘Child work’ and ‘child labour’ which may be very difficult to differentiate with each other. Even the Encyclopedia of social sciences (1979 cited in CW/CCD, 1997) has no clear demarcation between child work and child labour. It states “when the business of wage earning or of participation in self or family support conflicts directly or indirectly with the business of and education, the result is child labour. The function of work in childhood is primarily developmental and not economic children’s work then as a social good and it is the direct antithesis of child labour as a social evil.”

RWG-CL (2001: 32-33) has distinguished child labour from child work a littler bit clearly. It indicates that child work is good, it develops skills, children will need when they grow up. On the other hand child labour damages children’s physical growth and education. Child work becomes child labour when it is exploitative. It is distinguished from child work if:

  • Children are too young; the hours of work are too long.
  • Children are too small; the pay is too little; the work is too hard.
  • Children have too much responsibility.
  • The work is too dull and repetitive; the working environment is too dangerous; children have no choice they cannot leave work; they are not free.

The term ‘child labour’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:

  • is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and
  • interferes with their schooling:
    • by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
    • by obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
    • by requiring them attempt to combine schooling attendance with excessively long and heavy work.

Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies form country to country as well as among sectors within countries (ILO, 2002: 16).

The Regional Working Group on Child Labour (RWG-CL) defines child labour on the basis of United Nations convention on the rights of the child and also focuses on the ILO convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour. RWG-CL makes a distinction between child labour and child work as:

Child work includes activities that are not harmful, which may contribute to the healthy development of a child,

Child labour consist of all types of work, performed by children up to the age of 18 years, that is damaging to children’s health or their physical, mental, intellectual, moral or social development, and interferes with their education.

Included in the worst forms of child labour are all forms of slavery and practices similar to slavery, such as trafficking of children, bonded labour serfdom, and recruitment of children for armed conflict. Also included are the use of children in prostitution, pornography and in illegal activities such as drug production and drug trafficking, and any work in hazardous conditions, identified at national level according to the criteria in ILO recommendation 190 (RWG-CL, 2001).

2.3  Minimum Age Approach

In 1973, ILO from its Minimum Age Convention adopted convention No. 138 to sanction minimum age workers to be applicable to governments, employer enterprises, trade unions and organized establishments. Contention of this approach in defining child labour are:

  • Minimum Age of General Work: A child under 15 years of age in general and under 14 years of age in developing countries context where education facilities are not developed and available properly, if undertakes any type of general work is termed as ‘child labour. It does not says about nature of work whether is to be economic or non-economic, beneficial work to child’s further development or harmful.
  • Minimum Age for Light Works: A child under 13 years of age in general and under 12 years of age in developing countries context where education facilities are not developed and available properly, if undertakes any type of light works is termed as ‘child labour’. It does not says about nature of work whether is to be economic or non-economic, beneficial work to child’s further development ro harmful.
  • Minimum Age for Hazardous Work: A child under 18 years of age in all countries context if works in hazardous forms of work in independently or under 16 years under certain strict conditions is termed as ‘child labour in hazardous forms’. It is seen as exploitative in nature and harmful to be the basic development rights of the working child.
  • Minimum Age for Worst forms of Work: Unconditionally if a child under 18 years of age works in any forms of worst forms of work is termed as ‘worst forms of child labour’. This is unconditional because, applies to both girls and boys and all countries developed or developing alike.

2.4  What is Child Right?

In 1989, the general assembly of the United Nations adopted the convention on the rights of the child (CRC), which makes it clear that all children have the same rights as adults and also adds distinct rights that apply to all human beings under the age of 18 years. These includes:

  1. Provision for growth and development-through health and education services;
  2. Protection against exploitation and abuse and
  • Participation in decisions made on their behalf.

The ways these rights are interpreted depend on the age and maturity of children, but one of the most important principles is that adults should promote the “best interests” of a child or a group of children before considering the concerns of adults. This means taking children’s opinion into account wherever possible.

In the decade since it was adopted the CRC has had three main effects:

  1. Children are seen as subjects of rights, with their own ideas and opinions,
  2. Children are seen as people who contribute to society, rather than objects of concern or passive victims and
  • More and better information is sought about all aspects of children’s lives.

A further outcome has been the development of a wide range of new international human rights agreements concerning children that extends supports to the standards set out in the CRC. Some of these include special provision for children working as prostitutes or soldiers. Others deal with Juvenile Justice, which is very important for the children known as “street children”, or with the right to education, which is so often denied to working children. Some general human rights legislation also protects children as workers alongside adults. For example, legislation against slavery as well as forced labour applies to child labour, while agreement to suppress trafficking is intended to protect all people, of any age. This, the CRC is taken to be a basis to communicate about child labour. Whatever to CRC does or says must be for the benefit of children and it must also take children’s perspectives, experiences or opinion into account.

2.5 Factors Responsible for Child Labour in Nepal

Factors responsible for child labour is similar throughout South Asia. In the context of Nepal, rural children in Nepal often help their families to raise their economic status according to several studies done. The main factors enhancing to child labour in Nepal are:

  1. Poverty: Poverty is widespread in Nepal. According to Nepal living standard surveys (NLSS), in 2003-04, 31 percent of population was poor in Nepal. High dependency on agriculture, declining productivity, unequal land distribution and land fragmentation has caused increasing unemployment, under employment and poverty. Family poverty is the primary reason for children are sent to work. Problems such as insufficient food, proper shelter and other factors like unemployment among the adult family members, or death of the bread earner compels children to work form an early age. The family manages the extra resources needed to cope with the crises by taking children out of school and sending them to work. Most of the children migrate to cities in search of better living conditions.
  2. Family Disintegration: In spite of legal prohibition, child marriage and polygamy are still a reality in the Nepalese society. Physical exploitation, beating verbal abuse and neglect often force children to escape from their home. This is specially so when the mother dies and the father re-marries. Due to the increasing rates of desertion and separation, many children are vulnerable to socio-psychological problems at a very early age.
  • High Level of Illiteracy: About one third of males (32%) and three in five females (60%) have no education in Nepal, with females being far less educated than females. Men are twice as likely to be literate as women are (70 percent and 35 percent respectively), with rural women and men being less literate than their urban counterparts (Nepal 2001 Demographic and Health Survey report). Illiterate parents are not able to perceive the long-term benefits of education and this substantially decreases the future prospects for gainful employment of children. Some parents even seem to prefer their child working to other alternatives, especially when school is not attractive and not seen as a viable investment for future gains.
  1. Lack of Legal Enforcement: Existing legislative measures concerning child labour are not only inadequate, but also have not been fully enforced due to constraints of resources and staff as well as lack of political commitment. Although slavery system was abolished by law seventy years age (1933) it still prevails in the form of bonded child labour, prostitution and trafficking of children as a part of present day reality in Nepal (IPEC, 1995).
  2. High Demand for Child Labour: High demand for child labourers form employer’s point of view is a significant factor enhancing child labour. Employers have different intentions and interests while employing children but the main reason seems to be economic benefit.

Child labourers area a cheap and easily available labour force, are uncomplaining and easy to control, can be forced to adjust even in difficult circumstances. Children have no collective bargaining power and the employers themselves decide everything. They are provided just a normal wage and are not subject to receive any other basic facilities or allowances for their hard work. In fat they are paid very little without any difficulty because they usually come form very poor families and can be hired and fired at any time. Moreover, trade unions are not taking any interest in this regard. According to the country’s law, employment of children in any factory or any health hazardous area is illegal. Employers, however, seem to face no direct threat form the existing rules and regulations in this regard which goes to prove how ineffective their implementation has been.

2.6 Different Sectors of Child Labour in Nepal

A number studies on the situation of children working in different sectors such as manufacturing industries, construction works, carpet industries, tea estates, street children, domestic workers, tempo boys and so on have conducted by several individuals and organizations.

2.6.1 Child Worker in Brick Kilns

Bricks production is mainly confined to Kathmandu valley due to rapid growth of urbanization along with the soaring population. Altogether about 200 large and medium scale brick factories are operating in the valley. There is an average of 409 workers in each factory both male and female. Apart form the Kathmandu valley, an estimated 700 small to medium scale brick factories are running throughout the country having 120 to 150 labourers in each factory. There is no brick production factories in the districts of the Himalayan ranges in Nepal.

Kathmandu valley has the highest percentage of child labourers at 37 percent (152 working children out of 409) whereas the percentage is lower in outer districts, at 31 percent. An average of 34 percent of the total work force in brick kiln production are working children under the age of 16 years. There are 67 kilns in each district of Kathmandu valley. The total number of brick kilns working children throughout the country is estimated to be 59,925 out of a total labour force, of 176,250 involved in all brick kilns. The number of workers lowers in the months of June, July and August during monsoon period (CONCERN, 2005: 3).

2.6.2 Child Workers in Stone Quarries

The stone quarry is one of many areas in which child labour is used, and often exploited. Although accurate statistics are unavailable on the number of stone quarries and workers employed, it is estimated that 1600 stone quarries exist in different part of the country, situated particularly in and around urban and suburban areas. 32,000 children are working in them. The nature of work it is one of the most hazardous and worst form of child labour and exploitation. As children are innocent and often careless by nature, they frequently fall victim to different types of accident and injury (CONCERN, 2002: 10).

2.6.3 Child Workers in Restaurants and Tea Shops

Restaurants and tea shops are the major fields of employment for children in Nepal. Children are found working in tea shops and restaurants in both urban and rural area. The life of child restaurant worker normally starts before sunrise, often more than 12 hours without any rest. According to the survey conducted in Kathmandu district alone has 4,225 restaurants/teashops excepting tourist standard restaurants. The number of working children in Kathmandu district alone is 14,787 (CONCERN, 2003: 5: 10).

2.6.4 Child Labour in Carpet Industries

Carpet industry is one of the hard currently generating industries in Nepal. It provides job opportunities more than 2,50,000 people directly and indirectly (Shrestha, 1992). The records of the department of cottage and small industries (1993) shows that there were 4,167 registered carpet industries throughout the kingdom of Nepal in 1991/92.

According to CWIN, in 1992, found that over 47 percent of the children come to the factories alone or groups with ‘naike’, ‘labour, ‘recuiter’. Among the child workers in the carpet industries in the Kathmandu valley, 90 percent have come form nearby rural districts.

2.6.5 Child Ragpickers

The term ragpicker currently refers to people who collect rags or recyclable materials that can be sold for money. Ragpicking entails the sorting, collecting and selling of these various waste materials that can be found at dumpsites, riverbanks, street corners, or in residential areas, and consist primarily of plastics, bottles, cardboard, tin, aluminum, iron brass, and copper. Bases on this study it is estimated that there are 3,965 children engaged in ragpicking in the various urban centers of Nepal, with the highest concentrations located in Kathmandu valley and Dharan.

2.6.6 Child Domestic Workers

Domestic child worker is internationally as children working in an employer’s house with or without a wage. Child domestic workers are ubiquitous in Nepal and estimating 51,340 children being employed in this sector in urban areas of the country alone. Domestic child labours work 14 hours or more per day, usually at 5:00 AM. Their main chores include kitchen work, dish washing, child minding, clothes washing, house cleaning, cattle raising, and shop keeping. About 50 percent of domestic child workers are not paid wages for their services. In the majority of cases of the 40 percent who do receive a salary, their parents collect the money.

2.7 Consequences of Child Labour

Child labour has significant consequences for children, their families, the communities and the countries in which they live. Most occupation possesses particular hazards, which could be determental to children’s physical moral and social development. These children are exposed to life threatening illness of AIDS as well as extreme degradation and other negative consequences. In many cases, the family needs the income of the working children in order to survive. Agricultural family benefits form the full time help of the children in the field.





Chapter III

Research Methodology

          This study is based on primary and secondary source of information. The primary data is collected from observation, interview with the with the child labour in brick kilns. The publications of different government/non-governmental organizations, research institutions are taken to be the source of secondary data. Data has been tabulated and presented according to several techniques, including socio-economic conditions, working and living condition, educational status, ethnicity, health status and gender issues. To achieve the objectives of the study the following research methodology has been applied.

3.1 Study Area

The Bhaktapur district has been selected for this study. Most of the brick industries are situated in the Bhaktapur district, where a lot of child workers are engaged in brick making activities, who are come form outside valley due to low economic status. It is the most hazardous work specially for children and exploits their childhood. Thus, Bhaktpaur district is specially chosen as the research site to observe the prevalence and situation of child labour in brick kiln industries. In addition time and cost are responsible for selecting Bhaktapur district for study area, which is easily accessible and not too much expensive to conduct field work.

3.2 Population and Sample Size

Brick kiln industries have been growing in Bhaktapur district. There are about 67 brick kiln estimated in Bhaktapur district. There is not clear statistics about child labour in brick kiln industries in Nepal and in the Bhaktapur district particular. There seems the lack of accurate population of children aged under 18 years working in brick kilns of Bhaktapur district. For the study, the selected samples have been using purposive sampling technique. Altogether, 92 child workers are included in this study. Out of 4 industries surveyed, which are in Tathali VDC, ward no. 8 and 9. Actually the sample frame for child labour adopted in this study has been formed purposively as shown in table 1.

Table 1: The Sample Frame for Child Labour in Brick Kiln Industries

Name of factory

Sample population

Male Female Total
No. % No. % No. %
Hanuman Brick Industries 32 46.4 14 60.9 46 50.00
Jay Shree Mahakali Brick Industries 15 21.7 2 8.7 17 18.48
Shree Chundevi Brick Industries 8 11.6 5 21.7 13 14.13
Ganesh Fix Chimney Brick Industries 14 20.3 2 8.7 16 17.39
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.00

3.3 Nature and Sources of Data

Both qualitative and quantitative data has been collected and used. The data was collected using both primary and secondary sources.

3.3.1 Primary Sources

Primary data was collected with the help of schedule questionnaires, observations and case studies of the working children.

3.3.2 Secondary Sources

The secondary data was collected from the various publications related to child labour in general and child labourers working in brick factories in particular. Reports of different national and international organizations, research reports, newspapers and magazines were the sources of such literature.

3.4 Techniques of Data Collection

The following techniques have been used to collect data.

3.4.1 Interview

The structured questionnaire has been used to collect basic information about child labour in brick kiln industries in Bhaktapur district. The questionnaire is prepared in terms of personal identification and population structure like family characteristics, age, sex, caste, work experience, attitude towards work etc.

3.4.2 Case Study

In this field survey, a few case studies were prepared by interviewing each child and detailed account of their life, their experiences, their feelings and aspirations have been mentioned.

3.4.3 Data Analysis

After completing field work, the collected data were scrutinized. The completed questionnaire was entered into the computer immediately after editing and coding. Computer software dBase IV was used for data entry. After cleaning, data was transferred into SPSS statistical software package for further processing and analysis. Basically, numerical and percent distribution of child workers by age, sex and caste/ethnicity interpretation and analysis of data.

Chapter IV

Socio-Economic Characteristics of Brick Kiln Child Labourers

          Poverty stricken children always have to depend upon other well-off people by providing manual labour. Child labour reflects the poor socio-economic situation of underdeveloped societies. Nepali society is one of the poverty stricken and backward societies in the world. Increasing poverty, illiteracy and ignorance are leading our society to more and more misery. The miserable condition of our country has affected each sector of the society, and the children are its real victims. Not only they are deprived of basic necessities like nutrition, shelter, clothing, education and health care, but they also suffer form humiliation, neglect, abuse and exploitation.

This chapter deals with the background characteristics of the brick kiln child laborers. The analysis included age and sex composition, caste and ethnic composition, educational status as well as their family background including family size, parential status etc.

4.1 Age and Gender Composition of Respondents

The children who were selected for this study were between 11-18 years. The higher percentage 31.5 percent of the child workers interviewed were 18 years of age. However children as young as 11 years of age also formed a significant portion  1.1 percent of the working population.

Table 2: Distribution of Age and Gender Composition of the Respondents

Age (yrs.) Male Female
Number Percent Number Percent
11 1 1.4 0 0
12 3 4.3 3 13.0
13 7 10.1 1 4.3
14 8 11.6 4 17.4
15 9 13.0 1 4.3
16 13 18.8 1 4.3
17 8 11.6 4 17.4
18 20 29.0 9 39.1
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Among the total of 92 children interviewed, 69 (75%) were boys and 23 (25%) were girls. Table 2 shows that the proportion of boys was higher than that of girls.

4.2 Family Type of the Child Workers

The family type of the respondents was looked into because this was thought to have an influence on the number of working children.  On the basis of size or structure, family can be classified into two types. First, nuclear family is one which consists of the husband, wife and their unmarried children. And second, joint family is a group of people who generally live under one roof, who eat food cooked at one kitchen, who hold property in common and who participate in common worship and are related to each other as some particular type of kindred.

Table 3: Distribution of Family Pattern of Child Workers

Family pattern

Number Percentage

Nuclear family

68 73.9

Joint family

24 26.1


92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

The table 3 shows that 73.9 percent of the children came from nuclear families and 26.1 percent children belonged to joint families. In nuclear family earning of single-family member was not enough to support the living for the whole year round. Therefore in working season all the family members including the children work so that they can earn more money to sustain for the whole year.

4.3 Caste/Ethnic Composition of Child Labourers

As revealed by differently studies, the prevalence of child labour in brick kilns varies greatly by caste/ethnicity. Most of the children working in these factories surveyed have been found to be engaged.

Table 4: Distribution of Child Labourers of Caste/Ethnicity and Sex


Male Female Total
Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Chhetri 19 27.5 5 21.7 24 26.1
Kami/Damai 13 18.8 5 21.7 18 19.6
Magar/Gurung/Tamang/Newar 28 40.6 10 56.5 41 44.6
Sahani/ Mushahar/ Indian 9 13.0 0 0 9 9.8
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Table 4 shows that child labourers came form different caste/ethnic groups and have been doing the same types of job in every brick kiln industries. Table shows that the highest 26.1 percent of brick kiln child labourers are Chhetri, followed by Magar/Gurung/Tamang/Newar are 44.6 percent, Kami/Damai 19.6 percent and the lowest percent of brick kiln child labourers are Indian/Sahani/Musahar 9.8 percent.

4.4 Literacy and Educational Status of Child Labourers

Education is a fundamental right of child, child laboruers are often denied education that plays an instrumental role in intellectual, moral and economic development. Almost more than one third of child workers in brick kilns are illiterate and have never attended school at all. Most of the Nepalese children involve even in hazardous sector depriving of the ray of education and dropping out of schooling. Hence, this study has tried to find out the educational status of child in brick kiln industry.

Table 5: Distribution of Child Labourers by Sex and Literacy/Educational Status

Educational status Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Literate 52 75.4 16 69.6 68 73.9
Illiterate 17 24.6 7 30.4 24 26.1
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0
Level completed
Primary level 24 46.2 11 68.8 35 51.5
Lower secondary 24 46.2 3 18.8 27 39.7
Secondary 4 7.7 2 12.5 6 8.8
Total 52 100.0 16 100.0 68 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Table 6 shows that majority 73.9 percent of brick kiln child labourers are literate. Compared to girls 69.9 percent than higher percent of boys 75.4 percent are literate. Among these, primary level the number of girls 68.8 percent are higher in primary level as compared to boys 46.2 percent. In the lower secondary level on the other hand, girls 18.8 percent as compared to boys 46.2 percent. In secondary level the number of girls 12.5 percent seem to be less in number as opposed to boys 7.7 percent.

4.5 Reasons for School Drop-Outs

Poverty is the single greatest issue in lack of education. Due to poverty, most brick kiln child workers-especially those from western regions of Nepal such as Rolpa, Dang etc. migrate to Kathmandu in search of work. As brick production is seasonal, this means that there is no continuous or consistent means of employment or income and often during the monsoon brick production ceases altogether. Beginning in September, brick production normally runs until April or May of the following year, which means that brick kiln child workers would only be able to attend school for a few short months. Regular annual migration requires them to drop out of school completely and plays a big role in preventing them from seeking an education. Overall national poverty means that even if education could be made free, many of these children will still not benefit, as many backward rural communities have no school at all. More than half of brick kiln child workers have dropped out of school altogether and, as previously mentioned, without completing even a basic primary education. The less than 1 percent who studied to grade 10 are not able to move on to higher secondary school as they failed lower secondary examinations. Major reasons for never attending school and dropped out has been revealed in table No. 5.

Table 6: Distribution of Child Workers Reasons for School Drop-Out by Age and Sex

Reasons for school drop-out Sex Age
Boys Girls 11-13 14-18 Total
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Having been low economic status 2 11.8 1 14.3 3 13.0 3 12.5
Parents interest for not schooling 5 29.4 2 28.6 7 30.4 7 29.2
Having not interested for schooling 10 58.8 4 57.1 1 100 13 56.5 14 68.3
Total 17 100 7 100 1 100 23 100 24 100

Source: Field survey, 2007.

As pointed out in table 5, there are number of reasons that these children do not attend school. According to gender for girl children, parents interest for not schooling is reported as the main obstacle in non-schooling/dropping out of school whereas most of the boy children 58.8 percent working in brick kilns reported having not interested for schooling.

According to age upto 18 years of age 13 percent reported to having been low economic status. Similarly, 30.4 percent child workers, parents interest for not schooling and 56.5 percent child workers having not interested for schooling.

4.6 Family Size

Generally, demographic and socio-economic status of family plays a vital role in the process of socialization and overall development of children. They should be engaged in labour force or schooling is determined by family size of children.

Table 7: Distribution of Child Labourers According to Family Size by Sex

Family size Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
2-5 21 30.4 7 30.4 28 30.4
6-7 30 43.5 8 34.8 38 41.3
8-12 18 26.1 8 34.8 26 28.3
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Table 7 indicates that the majority of children working in brick kilns come form large family size having 6-7 family members and more highest percent of respondents 41.3 percent belong to families with 8-12 members, followed by 28.3 percent respondents with 8-12 members in the family.

4.7 Parental Status

Similarly, among the children interviewed, majority of children 78.3 percent have both parents alive. The significant proportion of children 3.3 percent reported step parents and mother died and father alive only 6.5 percent reported only 4.3 percent both (father and mother) died reported during the field survey.

Table 8: Distribution of Child Labourers by Parental Status and Sex

Parental status

Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %

Both alive

55 79.7 17 73.9 72 78.3
Both died 1 1.4 3 13.0 4 4.3

Only father alive

3 4.3 3 13.0 6 6.5
Only mother alive 7 10.1 0 0 7 7.6
Step parents 3 4.3 0 0 3 3.3


69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

4.8 Origin Place of Child Labour

Child workers in the brick kilns of Bhaktapur district are found to be originated from different districts. Among the 92 children interviewed, it is observed that majority of child workers come form hill districts where agricultural production is low.

          Table 9 shows that the highest proportion of children 35.9 percent coming from Rolpa, among them boys 37.7 percent and girls 30.4 percent. The next highest majority 17.4 percent from Dang, among them boys 14.5 percent and girls 26.1 percent which is compared to girls child workers are more than boys child workers. Data also shows that there are some children 19.6 percent who come form India (Bihar). Although, Sindhupalchowk, Sarlahi, Gulmi, Makawanpur, Salyan, Jhapa, Morang, Bhaktapur, Ramechhap, Kavrepalanchowk these districts from also child workers come form brick kilns in Bhaktapur district.

Table 9: Distribution of Child Labourers by Districts of their Origin

Place of origin

Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Eastern Terai            
Jhapa 2 2.9 2 2.2
Morang 1 1.4 1 1.1
Central Mountain            
Sindhupalchowk 1 4.3 1 1.1
Central Hill            
Kavrepalanchowk 1 1.4 1 1.1
Ramechhap 2 2.9 2 2.2
Bhaktapur 2 2.9 2 2.2
Sindhuli 5 7.2 5 5.4
Makawanpur 2 2.9 2 13.0 4 4.3
Central Terai
Sarlahi 1 1.4 1 4.3 2 2.2
Western Hill
Gulmi 1 8.7 1 1.1
Mid-western Hill
Rolpa 26 37.7 7 30.4 33 35.9
Salyan 2 2.9 2 4 4.3
Mid-western Terai            
Dang 10 14.5 6 26.1 16 17.4
Indian 15 21.7 3 8.7 18 19.6


69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

4.9 Reasons for Leaving Home

Children do not want to leave their home without any compelling reason. There are different socio-economic factors that influence and promote to leave their own village or home. Generally parents and family are responsible to provide the basic needs of children such as food, shelter, clothing, schooling and affections. When children are deprived of these basic needs, they are bound to leave home and are more likely to be engaged in the most hazardous and the worst forms of child labour.

Table 10: Distribution of Child Workers According to Reason for Leaving Home by Age and Sex

Reasons Age Sex Total
11-13 14-18 Boys Girls
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Poverty 10 66.7 47 61.0 42 60.9 15 65.2 57 62.0
Abusive behaviour of step mother/ father 1 1.3 1 1.4 1 1.1
Arrival with parents 3 3.9 2 2.9 1 4.3 3 3.3
No choice 3 20.0 17 22.1 13 18.8 7 30.4 20 21.7
Own desire 1 6.7 5 6.5 6 8.7 6 6.5
To earn 1 6.7 4 5.2 5 7.2 5 5.4
Total 15 100.0 77 100.0 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Above table shows that poverty is the most prevalent reason for leaving home of children and joining these industries. Among the migrant child workers upto 13 years, 10 (66.7%) reported due to poverty leaving home. While significant proportion of children 3 (3.9%) upto age 18 years come with parents. Among the child workers 6 (6.5%) leaving home their own desire. A significant proportion of minor workers 20 (21.7%) reported no choice as the reason for leaving home. Interms of gender 42 (60.9%) among boys child workers and 15 (65.2%) girls child workers leaving home and engaging brick kiln due to poverty. Similarly, arrival with parents boys child workers 2 (2.9%) and 1 (4.3%) for working in brick kilns and other reasons like interest to visiting Kathmandu. Although own desire 6 (8.7%) boys child workers leaving home.

4.10 Occupational Status of Child Worker’s Family

Work in the brick factory was the main occupation of the child workers. However, this form of livelihood alone was not sufficient to meet the families needs for the whole year. Therefore they had to look for main forms of employment. The researcher tried to find out what forms of main occupation the child worker’s families usually resorted to by asking them during the interview.

Table 11: Distribution of Child Labourers by Main Occupational Status of Family Members



Own farming 73 79.3
Bonded labour 1 1.1
Agricultural wage employment 5 5.4
Non-agricultural wage employment 12 13.0
Others 1 1.1
Total 92 100.0

Table 11 shows that 79.3 percent child worker’s reported that their families main occupation is own farming followed by 5.4 percent working as agricultural wage on other people’s field. Similarly, 13.0 percent child worker’s families members was found to be involved in non-agricultural wage.

4.11 Nature of Migration

Generally children working in brick kilns of Bhaktapur district come form agricultural based rural family. Most of them leave home seasonally for earning. October/November and come back to home in May/June while these brick kilns are to be closed down in rainy season.

Table 12: Distribution of Child Labouarers in Brick Kilns According to their Nature of Migration by Age and Sex

Categories Age Sex Total
11-13 14-18 Boys Girls
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Seasonal 13 86.7 73 94.8 64 92.8 22 95.7 86 93.5
Semi-permanent 2 13.3 3 3.9 4 5.8 1 4.3 5 5.4
Permanent 1 1.3 1 1.4 1 1.1
Total 15 100.0 77 100.0 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Table 12 shows that 86 (93.5%) children are seasonal migrants, while only 5 (5.4%) child workers reported to be migrant as semi-permanent. And only 1 (1.1%) child worker reported to be permanent migrants, who was working load unload on truck. Similarly, age group 14-18 years child workers 73 (94.8%) seasonal migrants while only 13 (86.7%) child worker age group 11-13 years seasonal migrants. It is also evident that the proportion of boys child worker is higher compared to girl child workers for any season. Occupation of the child worker families are also an integral part of the child labour. The most children come from the poverty stricken families, whose level of education and income is low. No child worker comes form the economically sound and educated families.

4.12 Duration of Engagement in a Season

Generally, child workers are migrants outside of the valley, particular Bhaktapur. Specially broker/naike provides some money as an advance to people including children before coming in brick kilns per years. When, brick kilns start to come into existence after cleaning up fields on November, December, numerous labourers including children are transferred for working in these factories then they are forced to engage in these industries in off farm season. Some workers leave for home after closing the brick kilns factories to involve in farming and others works in brick kilns for whole season. The response is collected as given in table 13.

Table 13: Distribution of Child Labourers According to Duration of Engagement in a Season by Sex

Duration of engagement


Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Less than 6 months 65 94.2 21 91.3 86 93.5
Less than 1 year 4 5.8 2 8.7 6 6.5
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

The above table 13 shows that in terms of sex, more boys compared to girls pointed to be engaged in brick kiln industries for less than 6 months. Similarly, more boys compared to girls reported to be engaged in less than 1 year. In totally, 93.5 percent engaged child worker in less than 6 months and only 6.5 percent engaged in less than 1 year.

Chapter  V

Working Condition, Exploitation and Perception of Child Workers

This chapter is divided into thee parts. The first part deals with the working conditions and environment of child workers in brick kiln industries. The  analysis mainly focuses working hours, types of work, earning status and controlling over their income. The second part reveals that the information about living condition and health of children dealing with housing and basic amenities, illness and injuries and recreation  for child workers in brick kiln industries. The third part deals with the perception and aspiration of child labourers on their earning and current work preference to study as well as aspects of harassment in brick kiln industries.

5.1 Working Condition and Environment

5.1.1 Working Condition and Environment

Brick kiln work is labour intensive and primarily manual so unskilled child workers easily find employment opportunities in this sector of the three main phases preparation. This type of work includes excavating clay from depths of 1.5 meters cleaning it and removing foreign objects, softening and mixing the clay with water and packing wooden frame moulds. After the sun-dried bricks are complete the second category involves hauling them to the furnace to be fired, arranging bricks in the kiln, controlling kiln temperature and finally removing the baked bricks and staking them in storage areas.

The final phase of brick work is loading purchased bricks into trucks for delivery  children  are involved in these all types of work.

Table 14: Distribution of Child If Workers on the Basis of the Types of Work by Age and Sex

Types of work Age Sex
11-13 14-18 Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. % No. % No %
Brick mounding 4 26.7 3 3.9 7 10.1 0 0 7 7.6
Carrying bricks from kilns to pile 7 46.7 31 40.3 29 42.0 9 39.1 38 41.3
Carrying bricks field to kilns 3 20.0 35 45.5 26 37.7 12 52.2 38 41.3
Others 1 6.7 8 10.4 7 10.1 2 8.7 9 9.8
Total 15 100.0 77 100.0 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey 2007.

As revealed in table 14 a significant number of children even less than 13 years of age are engaged in brick molding 26.7 percent and carrying bricks outward 46.7 percent and inward 20.0 percent with respect to kiln. Of the children involved in carrying brick from field to kiln, majority of children  45.5 percent. During the survey it is observed that more boys 10.1 percent are engaged compared to girl child worker. Further more overwhelming majority of children involved in carrying backed bricks from kiln to pile are boys 42.0 percent compared to girl children 39.1 percent on the other hand girl children 52.2 percent compared to boys 42.0 percent compared to girl children 39.1 percent. On the other hand girl children 52.2 percent compared to boys 37.7 percent involved in brick kilns for carrying bricks from field to kiln.

5.1.2 Working Hours

According to the child labour prohibition and regulation Act 2000 clearly defines a maximum 6 hours work day and 36 hours work week for children aged 14 and above. However, this legal provision is openly violated in the brick kiln sector, as in other areas of child labour exploitation, with brick kiln child workers working as many as 12 hours daily and 84 hours weekly. Specially, most of the children engaged in brick kiln work for long hours per day. Some minor workers and adult workers involved in brick moulding stated that they wake up as early as 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning to dig and knead mud sufficient for the day. Then they continue working till 7 or 8 o’clock in the evening.

Table 15: Distribution of Child Workers by Average Working Hours and Sex

Average working hours Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Less than 8 hours 19 27.5 11 47.8 30 32.6
8- 12 hours 45 65.2 12 52.2 57 62.0
12- 16 hours 4 5.8 0 0 4 4.3
More than 16 hours 1 1.4 0 0 1 1.1
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Above table 15 shows that majority of child workers 32.6 percent among 92 children surveyed in brick kilns work less than 8 hours per day. Similarly, 62.0 percent child work less than 12 hours per day, and 4.3 percent working less than 16 hours per day. A significant proportion of children working 1.1 percent more than 16 hours per day. The table also that less 8 hours working boys child workers only 27.5 percent compared to girl child worker 47.8 percent. It is says that in short hours working more girl child worker than boys worker.

5.1.3 Wage Payment

There is no uniform wage or payment basis in brick kilns but depends on brick kiln owners or contractors. Since most children do not keep any sort of personal record they are easily exploited and cheated. They complain that they often do not receive due wages or fair remuneration for work completed. Wages can vary even among those working on a daily wage basis and varies dependent on type of work as well. Despite long and hard work, the wage aspect appears to be unsatisfactory.

Table 16: Distribution of Child Workers by Average Wage Payment

Wage payment Number Percentage
Weekly 65 70.7
Monthly 10 10.9
Others 17 18.5
Total 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Above table 16 shows that 70.7 percent of child workers in brick kilns are paid weekly. Similarly, 10.9 percent child workers paid monthly and 18.5 percent child works paid others. some of these children receive only a portion of their salary just enough for food and basic necessities with a larger final payment at the end of the season. Child workers have little knowledge of the amount paid and due.

5.1.4 Controlling Over Income

Generally, child labour are taken in brick kilns by broker/naike, children also come to work in brick kilns with their parents/guardian and brother/sisters. It is found that children who come to work in these factories and live with their parents/guardian as well as brother/sister, does not get their wage in their own hands. Who have control over their income, also have to provide their income to their parents/guardian in the home. Thus, all children working in brick kilns directly support their family.

Table 17: Distribution of Child Labourers on the Basis of Controlling Over Their Earning by Age and Sex

Categories Self Parents/ guardians Brother/  sister Broker/  naike Total
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Male 28 40.6 35 50.7 4 5.8 2 2.9 69 100
Female 13 56.5 6 26.1 4 17.4 0 0 23 100
11-13 5 33.9 9 60.0 1 6.7 0 0 15 100
14-18 36 46.8 32 41.6 7 9.1 2 2.6 77 100
Chhetri 10 41.7 12 50 2 8.3 0 0 24 100
Kami/Damai 7 38.9 8 44.7 3 16.7 0 0 18 100
Magar/Gurung/ Tamang/ Newar 21 51.2 15 36.6 3 7.3 2 4.9 41 100
Sahani/ Musahar 3 33.3 6 66.7 0 0 0 0 9 100
Total; 41 44.6 41 44.6 8 8.7 2 2.2 92 100

Source: Field survey, 2007.

In terms of gender, keeps earning self 40.6 percent, parents/guardian 50.7 percent, brother/sister 5.8 percent, broker/naike 2.9 percent for boys children compared to girls children self 56.5 percent, parents/guardian 26.1percent, brother/sister 17.4 percent. Similarly, in terms of age, there are age group 11-13 is less keeps earning self than age group 14-18 years. Similarly, according to caste/ethnicity there are Chhetri self 24.4 percent, parents/guardian 29.3 percent, brother/sister 25.0 percent. Although Newar, Gurung don’t keep earning self, usually they provide earning in home parents, brother/sister etc.

5.2 Living Condition and Health

Usually, workers in the brick kilns live in hut and small attached huts (Jholi) made off raw for backed bricks. Straw and tin sheet along the premise of the kilns. The floor of the hut is wet and damp having been paddy field. Actually, with whom children are living in work site is the serious matter of concern. Separation from parents/families creates many problems related to child’s development, children who are deprived of their parent’s care and affection in work site might be exploited and harassed from their employer as well as co-workers.

Table 18: Distribution of Child Workers their Housing by Sex

Housing Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Temporary hut 61 88.4 21 91.3 82 89.1
Rented house 5 7.2 1 4.3 6 6.5
Own house 3 4.3 1 4.3 4 4.3
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Above table 18 shows that, in terms of sex, there is 88.4 percent boys child workers compared to 91.3 percent girls child worker live in temporary hut. Similarly, 7.2 percent boy workers and only 4.3 percent girls worker live in rented house. Most of the labourers including children involved in brick kilns are deprived of toilet facilities and electricity. In terms of drinking water, 22.8 percent children pointed out that they got piped water being public tap near the kilns and 77.2 percent children are reported to have deprived even safe drinking water they use boaring pipe water/ground water.

Table 19: Distribution of Child Workers Availability of Pipe Water

Pipe water Number Percentage
Yes 21 22.8
No 71 77.2
Total 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

5.3 Injuries and Accidents

Injuries and accidents are other frequent health related problems among child workers mainly because of a lack of job training and occupational safety measures. Work involving the carrying of bricks on the head of back causes injuries including children being hit from falling bricks or falling under the heavy load. The workers, in brick kilns suffer from serious health hazards due to heavy work burden as well as suffocating working environment. The whole area of brick kilns is full of dust, smokes come out from kilns. All the workers including children work in these polluted sites without any mask which deteriorates their health. Besides it, they are always exposed from the risk of falling in injuries/accidents working in brick kilns. On the survey study, most of the children 77 among 92 mentioned to have been ill during this working season.

Table 20: Distribution of Child Labourers of Health Hazards

Illness Number Percentage
Yes 77 83.7
No 15 16.3
Total 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Mostly, child workers involved in brick kilns fall sick due to poor living condition, inadequate and lack of nutritious food and ignorance about medical treatment. Children suffer form various kinds of illness and injuries such as fever, headache, backache and more.

Table 21: Distribution of Child Labourers on the Basis of Getting Treatment by Age and Sex

Getting treatment Sex Age Total
Boys Girls 11-13 14-18
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Yes 46 82.1 18 85.7 12 85.7 52 82.5 64 83.1
No 10 17.9 3 14.3 2 14.3 11 17.5 13 16.9
Total 56 100.0 21 100.0 14 100.0 63 100.0 77 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

The above table 21 shows that boys 82.1 percent compared girls 85.7 percent got treatment. In terms of age up to age 14-18 total 82.5 percent got treatment.

Table 22: Distribution of Child Labourers According to Symptom of Sickness by Age and Sex

Types of sickness Age Sex Total
11-13 14-18 Boys Girls
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Back pain 4 28.6 11 17.5 9 16.1 6 28.6 15 19.5
Leg pain 5 35.7 14 22.2 12 21.4 7 33.3 19 24.7
Body pain 4 28.6 27 42.9 25 44.6 6 28.6 31 40.3
Common cold 6 42.9 31 49.2 30 53.6 7 33.3 37 48.1
Diarrhoea/stomach 6 42.9 26 41.3 26 46.4 6 28.6 32 41.6
headache 5 35.7 28 44.4 24 42.9 9 42.9 33 42.9
Fever 9 64.3 37 58.7 32 57.1 14 66.7 46 59.7
Eye pain 1 7.1 8 12.7 4 7.1 5 23.8 9 11.7
Total 14 100.0 63 100.0 56 100.0 21 100.0 77 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Above table 22 shows that majority of children 59.7 percent are reported to have suffered form fever followed by headache 42.9 percent. Except it proportion of children suffered form back pain 19.5 percent, leg pain 24.7 percent. Similarly, body pain 40.3 percent and common cold suffered 48.1 percent. Most of the children also suffered from diarrhoea 41.6 percent, eye pain 11.7 percent.

There is no special facility for health care provided for children working in brick kilns. Some children themselves argued that only citamol and other general medicine is provided when they are ill. But, they have to cure themselves on extreme illness and injuries. If they are provided some money for treatment, that is cut up from their wage. Therefore, there is no provision of compensation in extreme illness and injuries/incidents.

5.3.1 Recreational Facilities

The right to leisure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities is virtually non-existent for brick kiln child workers. Essential to a child’s healthy growth and development, entertainment and recreation facilities are largely unavailable. Moreover, there is little free time in a dawn to dusk work day and rarely a day off for relaxation or personal leisure. Actually, working in brick kilns is the most tedious for children due to heavy work burden. Every child has a right to have a time for recreation. It is very sorryful things that children are bound to work on brick kilns for their livelihoods in the time of schooling. They work nearly a whole day with adult workers and get leisure time for entertainment rarely. Out of children surveyed, 92 percent children reported having time for recreation only for sometime. Among those, more boy children 78.4 percent compared to girl children 73.3 percent are reported to have got leisure time for entertainment hearing radio. In dancing and singing with friends only boy children 3.9 percent compared to girl children 26.7 percent leisure time for entertainment. Similarly, more children boy 60.8 percent and girl 66.7 percent watching TV in the near shop or other places. In terms of age 11-13 years children 81.8 percent and 14-18 age group children 76.4 percent hearing radio.

Table 23: Distribution of Child Labourers According to Getting Time for Recreation by Age and Sex

Characteristics Sex Age Total
Boy Girls 11-13 14-18
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Play games 2 3.9 0 0 0 0 2 3.6 2 3.0
Hearing radio 40 78.4 11 73.3 9 81.8 42 76.4 51 77.3
Cinema 29 56.9 9 60.0 4 36.4 34 61.8 38 57.6
Watching TV 31 60.8 10 66.7 5 45.5 36 65.5 41 62.1
Dancing and singing with friends 2 3.9 4 26.7 1 9.1 5 9.1 6 9.1
Total 51 100.0 15 100.0 11 100.0 55 100.0 66 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

5.4 Perception and Future Plans of Child Workers

5.4.1 Perception on Job Satisfaction of Respondents

Most of the child workers belong to poor families who cannot afford even the basic amenities without working alongside with the parents and contributing to the family income. One would expect children to be happy to earn an extra income, as this would ensure better food, an opportunity to study and hope for a better future in life.

Table 24: Distribution of Child Labourers by Job Satisfaction and Sex

Job satisfaction Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Satisfied 51 73.9 12 52.2 63 68.5
Not satisfied 18 26.1 11 47.8 29 31.5
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Table 24 shows that 68.5 percent of children were happy with their present job. The reasons they stated for satisfaction were better payment and an extra income. Most of children agreed that they are not happy to work in brick industries, 31.5 percent children are unhappy with their jobs. Bad working conditions, no access to wages and long working hours was the reason for their unhappiness.

5.4.2 Preference to Study of Working Children

Children particularly, working in brick kilns have found to be never attended or dropped out schooling. Though most of the children have interest in studying. The proportion of children currently attending school is negligible. Actually education is the rights of children by birth. But many children remain deprived of schooling. Household work and financial problems are the main obstacles of schooling for children working in brick kilns. The real aspiration and interest towards schooling of these children has been shown in table 25.

Table 25: Distribution of Child Labourers for Preference to Study by Sex

Preference to study Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Yes 41 59.4 19 82.6 60 65.2
No 28 40.6 4 17.4 32 34.8
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Above table 25 shows that 65.2 percent working in brick kilns their interest to study if they are given a chance for schooling. In terms of gender, the proportion of girl children for preferring to study is lower than boy children.

5.4.2 Future Plans of the Working Children

Each and every person in this world, be it a child or an adult has the right to dream about his/her future. All the 92 children were asked about their future plans and have ambition in their life. That has been presented in table 26.

Table 26: Distribution of Working Children by Their Future Plans

Future plans Boys Girls Total
No. % No. % No. %
Army 3 4.3 3 13.0 6 6.5
Farmer 21 30.4 5 21.7 26 28.3
House worker 4 5.8 3 13.0 7 7.6
Carpenter 5 7.2 2 8.7 7 7.6
To go foreign country for work 6 8.7 6 6.5
Animal husbandry 1 1.4 1 4.3 2 2.2
Doctor 8 11.6 3 13.0 11 12.0
Teacher 5 7.2 4 17.4 9 9.8
Singer 1 1.4 0 0 1 1.1
Pilot 1 1.4 0 0 1 1.1
Social worker 3 4.3 0 0 3 3.3
Driver 6 8.7 0 0 6 6.5
Nothing 5 7.2 2 8.7 7 7.6
Total 69 100.0 23 100.0 92 100.0

Source: Field survey, 2007.

Table 26 shows that 7.6 percent children said that they had no any clue about their future plans. The table shows that the boys seemed to be more ambitious than girls, except for the profession of a teacher in which the 7.2 percent boys and 17.4 percent girls. Rest of the working children had big ambitions such as army 6.5 percent, doctor 12.0 percent, singer 1.1percent, pilot 1.1 percent and driver 6.5 percent.



Chapter Vi

Case Studies

Case –1

Name: Shyam Krishna Suwal

Address: Tathali, Bhaktapur

Work Place: Shree Chundevi Brick Industries, Tathali, Bhaktapur

Shyam Krishna Suwal represents those unlucky children, who are deprived form basic child rights. He is originally of Bhaktapur district. Suwal is the eldest son in his family. Instead of attending school, he is spending his precious childhood in a brick kiln. Both of his parents are farmers. With his responsibilities as the eldest son he is engaged in a wage earner. He dropped out of school in class one.

He is only 15 years old. Usually he works 8-12 hours per day. He prepares the mud to make bricks and carries brick to the kiln. This type of hard labour may hamper his physical growth.

Despite the hard physical labour he hardly earns Rs. 1000-1500 per month. It is very difficult for him to  save as his income is low and he has to buy food and clothes for himself with his money but he minimizes his expenditures.

This child has a lot of ambition and hopes in life. He wants to spread knowledge and education to all children as a teacher.

Caste –2

Name: Deepa B.K.

Address: Dang

Work place: Shree Chundevi Brick Industries, Tathali, Bhaktapur

Deepa B.K. is from Dang district in the mid-western part of Nepal where illiterate, socially unaware people suffer a hand to mouth existence. Both of her parents work in the same brick kiln where she works and she previously worked in agriculture, as her parents are tenant farmers. A school dropout, left her studies, left studies in class two, as her parents could not longer afford the fees.

Twelve-year-old Deepa’s job includes preparing mud making and stacking bricks. Despite all the hard labour, Deepa makes only about Rs. 1000 monthly, which is paid on a daily basis. She works 8 hours daily and her parents take all of her earnings. She lives with her parents in a muddy hut provided by her employer, which is very uncomfortable so she sleeps on a straw mat.

She says she does not want to stay here and would prefer to return home because of abuse harassment. Deepa says action should be taken against those people who harass working girl children like me.

Deepa B.K. wishes, if possible, to carry on with her studies and become a nurse in future.


Name: Parwati Pariyar

Address: Salyan

Work place: Jay Shree Mahakali Brick Industries, Tathali, Bhaktapur

Parwati Pariyar is originally from Salyan in western Nepal where most of the people are engaged in farming. Her family status is very poor. Both of her parents are illiterate tenant farmers. This fourteen year old girl used to help her parents at home but now she is working in Jay Shree Mahakali Brick Industries to provide financial support to her family.

She was forced to quite school in class 4 due to both the financial crisis at home and the present political crisis, so she came to Kathmandu valley with friends in search of work.

She works 6-7 months a year in the brick kiln and returns home in the off-season. To receive Rs. 100, she has to make 1500 bricks and she works 9-10 hours per day without rest or leisure. Her everyday jobs are to carry, back, load and remove bricks form the kiln. She prefers to work in the brick kiln because it is easily available employment and better income than other jobs.

Parwati saves up to Rs. 700 monthly form her earnings for herself and her family. She is happy to be able to help her parents financially. She spends money buying clothes and food and for amusement.

Sometimes her employer and colleagues harass her making her feel like leaving this job and returning home. This girl has no idea about child rights and has not experienced a good childhood.

When asked about future goals, she expressed she wants to serve his country as a doctor in the future.


Name: Hari Baral

Address: Lakhanpur-1, Jhapa

Work place: Hanuman Brick Industries, Tathali, Bhaktapur

Hari Baral is 13 years old and there are 5 members in her family. He has one elder brother and one is small brother who, elder brother dropouts from school and Hari Baral is continuity his study, he is in grade eight.  He said that he is interested for study and his parents also interested for his study. He full help his parents in work season.

When asked about his work in brick industry, he has been turning the raw brick, he says that I mould the brick, carrying mud and also carry the brick. In average he works for 8 hours a day and says, at the end of the day I get very tired.

The total earning goes to her parents, and at times his parents gives his Rs. 50-60 in a month. He says, ‘I come to the local marked for shopping and to watch movies for recreation. He is sometimes suffering form cough, fever, tonsil, hand/legs pain.

He says that his parents are illiterate, since they do not possess other skills and because of family poverty they have no other alternatives other than to work in the brick factory.

When asked about future goals, she expressed only his wish to carry on with his studies and he wants to make a doctor in future.


Name: Susma Adhikari

Address: Sarlahi

Work place: Hanuman Brick Industries, Tathali, Bhaktapur

Susma Adhikari is 17 years old. She comes form Sarlahi. There are 6 members in the family. Her parents are farmer and working own farming.

Susma is continuity his study. She is first time in brick kiln industries. She just finished SLC exam and just working as slip distributes for load trucks. She has come with her villager friends. She says that, she is poor and not enough food for survival, therefore, she came to work in brick kiln. Susma wants to her study continuity and she wants to join intermediate level.

She has a lot of ambition and hopes in life he wants to spread knowledge and education to all children as a teacher.


Chapter VII

Summary and Conclusion

7.1 Summary

Child labour remains a serious problem in the world today. Child labour remains a major challenge for the Nepalese society. Nepal is the poorest country of the world and poverty is the main cause of the child labourers. Child labour is not a new phenomenon in a agriculturally dominant country like Nepal. Many of the children have been deprived of their basic amenities and childhood rights. Economically weak people employ children to work in order to support the family. In some case children leave home on their own will and migrate to urban areas in search of job. Child labour is thus a result of poverty, illiteracy, parent’s ignorance, and social injustice. Children have been employed in various sectors of economy like the agricultural sector, domestic service, manufacturing sector and likewise. Child labour has significant consequences for children, their families, the communities and the countries in which they live. Most of the occupation possess particular hazards, which could be determental to children’s physical moral and social development.

This study has the main objective of examining into realities of child labours of brick kilns in the study area. Its specific objectives were to assess the socio-economic conditions of the child labourers in brick kilns industries.

This study is based on primary and secondary sources of data has attempted to analyze the situation of child labour in brick kilns of Bhaktapur district. The present study is based on the interview of 92 child labourers under 18 years of age in brick kiln industries of Bhaktapur district. The survey sites are selected on the basis of purposive sampling method.

The major findings of the study can be summarized as follows:

Among 92 child labourers 75 percent boys child and 25 percent girls child labour. The majority of age group of 17-18 years 44.6 percent , 15-16 years 26.1 percent and less than 12 years 7.6 percent. It shows that there is majority of older children than comparison to younger one.

The children belong to different caste as well as ethnic groups. There are Chhetri 26.1 percent, Kami/Damai 19.6 percent, Magar/Gurung/Tamang/ Newar 44.6 percent, Sahani/Musahar/Indian (Bihar) 9.8 percent. Almost all children working in brick kilns of Bhaktapur district come from outside. In this study the sampled child labourers are found coming from different district of Nepal like that Rolpa 35.9 percent, Dang 17.4 percent, Sindhupalchowk 1.1 percent, Sarlahi 2.2 percent, Gulmi 1.1 percent, Makawanpur 4.3 percent, Salyan 4.3 percent, Jhapa 2.2 percent, Bhaktapur 2.2 percent and form India (Bihar) 19.6 percent etc.

In terms of schooling, out of total children working in brick kilns about 73.9 percent of children are literate who ever attended school, 51.5 percent children have passed less than primary level, 39.7 percent passed lower secondary and only 8.8 percent passed secondary level. However, the literacy level of girl children is lower than that of boy children. The major reason for never attending/dropping out schooling are due to poverty 62.0 percent, abuse behaviour of step mother/father 1.1 percent, arrival with parents 3.3 percent, no choice 21.7 percent, own desire 6.5 percent and to earn 5.4 percent for dropping out school. In fact, the household work for more girl children than boys.

Most of child workers 73.9 percent are found coming from nuclear family and only 26.1 percent come from joint family. Children working in brick kiln industries have both their parents alive 78.3 percent, both died 4.3 percent, only mother alive 7.6 percent and only father alive 6.5 percent. Most of the children 79.3 percent reported to have own farming as the prime means surviving for their family followed by agricultural wage employment 5.4 percent, non-agricultural wage employment 13.0 percent and only other 1.1 percent.

Most of the children reported to have come with broker/naike 25.0 percent, coming with parents 10.9 percent and significant portion of children coming with relatives. Majority of children 93.5 percent are reported to be engaged for less than 6 months and 6.5 percent are reported to be engaged for more than 6 months. Majority of children carrying brick from kilns to pile 41.3 percent, and field to kiln 41.3 percent, brick moulding 7.6 percent and field to kiln 41.3 percent, brick moulding 7.6 percent and others 9.8 percent engaged in brick kiln industries. Only 32.6 percent child workers are reported to be engaged in brick kiln for less than 8 hours, 62.0  percent children are working less than 12 hours, and only 1.1 percent working more than 16 hours. But they get little money mostly by piece rate basis. Actually they are paid some money every week for their fooding and other expenses and the final payment is made at the end of the season.

Most of the children 89.1 percent working in brick kilns are living in temporary  hut. Actually, the temporary huts are wet and damp being paddy field in rainy season. They make their bed lining with brick without ‘khat’ for sleeping. Most of workers including children have been deprived of electricity and toilet facility. The children working in these industries get leisure time for entertainment rarely.

Being risky and hazardous work for children, they are likely to fall in injuries/accidents. Among the children interviewed 83.7 percent reported to have got injuries/accidents during the working periods. Brick kiln sites are enveloped in dust and smoke come out from kilns. So, the prolonged exposure to dust and smoke affect the health of the children. In addition, poor living condition, hard work, inadequate and lack of nutritious food etc. Specially, relating to respiratory problems, fever, headache, joint pain, eye pain, body pain and diarrhoea etc. are identified as the major forms of sickness to children working in brick kilns. There is no medical facility in any of the factories surveyed except providing minor medicine.

7.2 Conclusion

Child labourers are different caste/ethnic groups coming from various geographic location of Nepal, work in the brick kiln industries in Bhaktapur district. This study is based on purposive sampling with 92 children in selected 4 brick kiln of Bhaktapur. Both quantitative and qualitative information have been used in this study, which is covered following conclusions.

  • A significant portion of children come form poor families who are dependent on agriculture as their source of income. Many of these families either have a little land or no land at all. The prevailing socio-economic conditions, i.e. poverty, lack of adequate working and employment facilities. So the parents are compel to send their children to work in the brick kiln industries.
  • The majority of child workers in brick kilns are seasonal migrants form outside the valley including India (Bihar). Among them, most of the child workers are largely form poor, underprivileged and oppressed caste/ethnic community.
  • A significant portion of children working in brick kilns seems illiterate and most of the children who have attended schooling are reported to have dropped out before completing primary level.
  • Actually, there is no direct relation between workers and real employees of brick kilns. Most of the workers including children are transferred by middle man. They got monthly wage as well as commission form earnings of workers who are under their control. The workers including children working in brick kilns are paid per week for their fooding and other expenses. The final payment is made at the end of the season.
  • Child workers are working in brick kilns under hazardous and exploitative condition, as well as unhealthy working environment. They have to face various kinds of injuries/accidents. In addition child workers are suffered from different kinds of illness like fever, headache, joint pain, common cold and diarrhoea etc.
  • It can be concluded that the root causes of child labour are strongly associated with poverty, lack of educational opportunities, certain cultural traditions and family size. Raising parents economic status may reduce the magnitude of child migration and child labour. In addition, lack of work opportunities in off farm season, arrival of parents in brick kilns and engaged in brick kilns child labour. The complete elimination of child labour form these factories are a national challenge for future because most of the children loss their physical, mental, social and moral development engaging in such a intolerable forms of child labour.



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