Nepalese children raise their voice for child rights
By Elliana Saltalamacchia
Nepali children are educating their own communities about the risks of child labour and child exploitation, via an innovative radio program broadcast across the Pokhara region.
The program was developed after the organisation identified a lack of awareness of children’s rights and issues in Nepal.
Child labour is common with 37 per cent of children aged 5-17 affected in 2014.
Sexual exploitation, trafficking and early marriage also exist. 2016 UNICEF data shows that 10 per cent of Nepalese girls are married before 15, and 37 per cent before 18, despite the legal age for marriage being 20 in Nepal.
The education system is also rife with child rights issues as corporal punishment remains a common form of discipline. Physical violence is also prevalent in the home, with as many as 82 per cent of children aged 1-14 experiencing violent discipline in 2014.
But Milijuli Bolaun is working to bring attention to these problems. The program is run by students aged 12 to 16 who broadcast the show once a week from their studio in Pokhara.
Right4Children chief executive officer Anil Paudel said the organisation thought radio was a powerful tool for advocacy, especially if the program was presented by children.
“When children themselves are speaking and raising their voice there’s a huge difference,” he said.
“Respecting children’s voice and respecting children’s rights are important because they are the pillars of the future – they are the change agents. If we invest in children now, we will get a return in 20 years.”
Malika Baysal is 16 years old and has been involved in Milijuli Bolaun for three years.
“This program is very important because we can raise the voice of Nepalese children who are suffering and can’t come here and use their voice,” she said.
“That’s the most important thing.”
Mr Paudel said the government and Nepali people have slowly become more concerned about child rights but the problem is still “quite huge”.
He said education for all children is needed to eradicate the problems that remain. According to Nepal’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in 2014, as many as one third of children did not attend secondary school.
“When we make sure that 100 per cent of children are in school, I think that slowly, gradually, the trafficking rate will go down, the child labour rate will go down and the poverty rate will go down,” Mr Paudel said.
There are over 100 students involved in the radio program who are not only impacting the lives of many Nepalese children, but reaping benefits for themselves.
“I’ve built my confidence and now I have little doubt in myself. I can go straight and say [when interviewing people] ‘I want to know about this’. I am never scared at any time,” Ms Baysal said.
She said when she graduates she wants to study education.
“I want to be a teacher,” Ms Baysal said.
“I want to be a teacher for children who never understood their duties and their rights.”
Milijuli Bolaun is broadcasted from radio stations in Kaski, Palpa and Syangja districts of Nepal. It is also available online.
Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey
- Child labour is common with 37 per cent of children aged 5-17 involved in some form of economic activity in 2014.
- Physical violence is also prevalent in the home, with as many as 82 per cent of children aged 1-14 experiencing violent discipline in 2014.
- According to Nepal’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey in 2014, as many as one third of children did not attend secondary school.
- More information here.
- 2016 UNICEF data shows that 10 per cent of Nepalese girls are married before 15, and 37 per cent before 18, despite the legal age for marriage being 20 years in Nepal.
- More information here.
[Feature photo of Malika Baysal and Kishor Timilsina in the Milijouli Bolaun recording studio by Elliana Saltalamacchia]