Report finds child labor rife among informal, small businesses

New campaign calls for governments and international agencies to focus on tackling the worst forms of child labor found in thousands of small, informal businesses.

Photo: UNICEF Nepal

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Progress towards the UN global goal to ‘eliminate child labor in all its forms by 2025’ will not be made in countries with a significant child labor problem unless attention is focused on small businesses in the informal sector, a report points out.

The research is based on research from the new ‘Small Business of Child Labour’ campaign led by the Child Labour Action Research program (CLARISSA). It has documented the widespread use of children as young as six years old working in Bangladesh and as young as 11 in Nepal.

The campaign is calling for governments, civil society organizations and international agencies to shift international and national policies and interventions to focus on the prevalence of the worst forms of child labor within small businesses.

Based on testimonies from nearly 200 children working in the adult entertainment sector in Nepal, many find work within informal and unregulated venues, like dohori restaurants, massage parlors and dance bars.

To reduce Covid-19 transmission, the government forced the Adult Entertainment Sector to completely close for almost a year in total (April-December 2020 and April to July 2021). However, many activities continued undetected, leaving children without any protection at all, according to the report.

Likewise, the report stated that the leather industry is a major employer in Bangladesh. Through the research and the documentation of life stories with children, it is evident that there are thousands of small businesses that exist within the informal leather supply chain and children are often required to undertake dangerous work, reads the report.

Commenting on the campaign, Sudhir Malla, Country Coordinator for CLARISSA Nepal, “While Nepal has an extensive albeit incomplete legislative framework that theoretically protects children from the ‘worst forms of child labor’ it fails to respond to the needs children working in the unregulated informal sector.