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The Status Of Childrens Rights In Nepal

The purpose of this report is to assess the issues surrounding the childrens human rights in Nepal by criticising their status in conjunction with the applicable International Treaties. Simultaneously its aim is to illustrate the current situation, by providing information from findings regarding the violations on the rights of the children. Particularly it focuses on health status, sexual exploitation, forced labour and education and it reflects those violations, by providing statistical data and paradigms during and after the armed conflict.

It would also give emphasis, on whether Nepal has complied with the International Conventions as well as whether any NGO.s gave any attention towards the crisis sustained in Nepal.

Finally the report would make a general evaluation by providing recommendations in respect of Nepal’s implementations and promises for the improvement of children’s human rights, including the need of their protection and their future concern.

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Nepal in reality is one of the poorest and undeveloped countries in the world, which tries to be reborn from its own ashes, after witnessing and experiencing a 10 year internal violent armed conflict, due to the Maoist insurgency which ceased in 2006.

Nonetheless the last years have been made significant changes and developments. In 2008, Nepal went from political instability to a Federal Democratic Republic as the UCPN-M [1] had agreed with the Nepalese government to come to an end with that conflict. Thus was guaranteed a peaceful government according to the CPA, [2] establishing equality and safeguarding fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Despite the fact that, there is a gradual recovery and progress, serious human rights violations continue to occur, as Nepal still faces the aftershocks of the crisis. Arguably the armed conflict has stigmatised the most vulnerable group and has deprived from them their basic rights. Children have been victimised and faced ostracism of their houses, forced to be soldiers and arbitrarily detained by the government, subjected to ill-treatment and even torture. Others were used for exploitation and being subjected to sexual abuse depriving their right to be educated and also their health status has been deteriorated.

Immediate help from human rights defenders and INGO’s [3] was rapidly given globally, but still it is an imperative need as children demand their protection. Most of them still live under insecurity and instability facing risks of further violations of their rights. Thus is due consideration to highlight the current situation.

III.Children’s Health Status and Human Exploitation in Armed Conflict

It is claimed that “children are majority in statistics but minority on social status in real world”. [4] This statement reveals the current situation concerning children’s rights status in Nepal.

Recent reports indicate that there have been grievous violations of children’s rights as hundreds have been killed by armed groups due to the political situation and others continue to be at risk even if the country is in a post-conflict stage. Moreover thousands were seriously injured and others have died because of diseases particularly from HIV/AIDS. [5] Their health status has been degrading [6] both physically and mentally as the armed conflict deprived from them their basic rights such as the right to family, food and shelter.

The unfriendly environment had exposed orphaned children to conditions which had never experienced before. Moreover hundreds have been displaced from their families and have been subjected to violation, prostitution and involuntary servitude without their consent becoming vulnerable to high risks of infectious diseases. During and after the ceasefire, children exploitation had worsened their health as the majority of the victimised children have been unlawfully treated and exposed in dreadful conditions, facing oppression and coercion. Simultaneously the inadequate health system, resources and the insufficient manpower has worsened their health status.

Even if Nepal has attained to streamline child’s health the last decades by reducing mortality under 5 from 118% in 1996 to 61% in 2006, however disparities exist by different social groups regarding accessibility in the health system.

The phenomenon of child trafficking is Nepal’s one of its major problems. Yet, no formal surveys have been prepared by the Nepalese government but the Committee concerned that there is lack of actual statistics of children victims on exploitation and trafficking. [7] However a research conducted by CWIN [8] in association with Save the Children revealed that 73,8% of 110 boys living on the street, had had non-consensual sexual intercourse. [9] Another tragic study conducted by ILO [10] estimated that about 5000 children, mainly girls are working as commercial sex workers. [11]

Nonetheless Nepal had successfully ratified and had abided by the terms of OPSC. [12] Also the Interim Constitution of Nepal guarantees the protection of children against any form of abuse and exploitation as well as many acts such as the Children’s Act [13] and Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act [14] is opposed to CSEC. [15] However the study of the CRC [16] Sub-Committee of the HRTMCC [17] reveals that the Nepalese provisions do not explicitly address the issues that fall under OPSC [18] and fail to accord with the CRC.

Consequently that means the legislation does not safeguard the rights of the children from CSEC. According to the same study it was observed that even if institutions, centres and initiatives are combat against CSEC there is a lack of coordination between them [19] as there is an overlap due to government institutions. At the same time different projects cease to continue their work as there is no adequate financial support and also there is no specific programme to work against CSEC for the best interests of the child.

Notably children who have participated in consultation meetings did not know about the government programmes regarding OPSC dissemination. Since most of the children are illiterate they cannot understand the provisions conducted by the Nepalese government combating CSEC; so without having the proper knowledge and support it would be an utopia for them to fight for their rights against CSEC which could be characterised as a modern type of slavery.

IV.Forced Labour-DCL

Myriad studies, indicate that the mission of the government is to enrich the status of the child in Nepal and make attempts in order to formulate strategies so as to eliminate the worst forms of DCL. [20]

Nepal has one of the worst backgrounds regarding the forms of forced labour especially in the DCL. Frans Roselaers claimed that “unacceptable forms of exploitation of children at work exist and persist but they are difficult to research due to their hidden, sometimes illegal or even criminal nature.” [21] The phenomenon of child labour in Nepal takes lots of dimensions the last decades as children are economically active from their young age. In accordance to NFLS [22] the participation rate for children is estimated at about 40.4%. [23]

The current political situation, poverty and the harmful traditional practices use children to be exposed in the worst hazardous conditions and forced them to drop out from school depriving from them their education. The constitution of Nepal prohibits child labour and the Nepalese government after the ratification of CRC indicated the commitment of ensuring that children do not have to work. Therefore Nepal was obligated to enact respective domestic laws. Within this context enacted the Children’s Act [24] and also Child Labour Act [25] strictly prohibiting and eradicating child labour. Furthermore in 1997 ratified C138 [26] with object the abolition of child labour and became a member of the SAARC. [27] Also, the IPEC [28] operates in Nepal with intention to create policies against child labour.

An issue which is yet due consideration is whether children rights have indeed made progress after the ratification of the Conventions in conjunction with the new democratic system of Nepal by enacting respecting legislation, policies that present a development on their human rights status. It must be emphasised that there is a significant reduction of bonded labour to 40.4% compared to 47.0% of the total child population which was detected in NLFS 1998. Although the Committee in its one observation concerned that “despite the efforts of the state party to abolish the worst forms of child labour, the prevalence of child labour remains high particularly in hazardous conditions of work”. [29]

In 2009, the CEACR [30] despite Nepal’s ratification of C182 [31] and Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict [32] requested the government to take measures in order to amend its domestic legislation and prohibit the forced recruitment of children less than 18 years for use in armed conflict. The Committee also observed that the government has not made respective laws which are consistent with the provisions of the Convention in order to prohibit a person below 18 years to be exposed in hazardous work.


Education is children’s prime concern and also it could be considered the basis of creating a safe future for a nation. Children are the principal participants of a country and especially Nepal which is a nation where education must be promoted among other developments made by the state. Nepal has ratified the ICESCR [33] where Articles 13 and 14 highlight the issue of free compulsory education. Although Nepal consented to the terms in order to provide free education between the ages of 6 and 11; the provisions regarding the Covenant are not followed.

Also in one of its latest reports the UN [34] Committee observed that Nepal has yet to adopt a policy of compulsory education and further comments that there is a gap concerning the attendance between girls and boys as well as there is great disparity between castes ethnic and indigenous groups. The emancipation of children from a young age had used them to work hard as their families do not invest in their educational needs because of monetary hardships. Statistics from a recent survey conducted by the ILO demonstrating the seriousness of the situation; 9% of the total child population, have never attended school and 59% have not even completed their primary education. [35] Remarkably the gender gap remains a problem as mostly girls are discriminated from education due to the patriarchal traditions who want girls to be married from their young age.

VI.Human Rights Defenders

NGO’s such as UNICEF [36] play a fundamental role as their mission is to safeguard the rights of the children in Nepal. UNICEF had provided mechanisms for the needs of the children supporting them in various ways: providing rehabilitation and remuneration programmes as well as reintegration programmes. A NGO named “Save the Children” focuses mainly in the development of education and health of the children by trying to regulate and reduce youth mortality. establishing strategic partnerships with the government.


Hence the poor economic status, poverty and also the bad cultural practices in Nepal, illustrate children’s human rights in their worst form. Even if the state has made step forward by ratifying international conventions there is lack of enforcement of the law and policies which in reality constitutes the main gap for any solutions. Nonetheless, Nepal could not be the only fighter of safeguarding the child rights through its legislative framework, but the key lies on the general system of human resources and society which must be sensitive on issues surrounding children’s rights.


Effective strategies must be conducted by the PPCC [37] which would enforce policies for solving the issues of DCL. Even if education has been hindered by poverty, it could be the response to diminish child labour and enrich the status of the child.

The Nepalese government must immediately ratify the third Optional Protocol, [38] as pursuant to it, abused children that became victims of prostitution and trafficking could have the opportunity to raise their voice and bring complaints for violations of their rights.

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The state must give attention to the UN observations concerning discrimination in education in which it must eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education. Trade unions should continue to encourage these challenges in the process of educational restructure and put pressure to the government of changing its policies in all levels of education corresponding to the provisions contained in ICESCR.


2000 words.


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