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New Children’s Act draws flak from rights activists

While the country has become the first in South Asia to bring Children’s Act, some provisions of the new law have drawn criticism.

The act define children as someone who is under the age of 18. However, Subsection 9 of Section 7 states, “Children below the age of 14 years should not be engaged in hazardous work, or kept as domestic help or Kamlari.”

Rights activists have criticised this provision, saying this provision does not criminalise forced labour of children above the age of 14. They have demanded that the provision to be amended so that children are not forcibly employed  for hazardous work.

National coordinator of Child Rights Campaign Prabin Silwal was arrested by police today for disrupting a rally organised by ‘Good Neighbours International Nepal’ at Bhadrakali.

The rally was organised to spread awareness of children’s rights. Silwal had laid flat on the street to protest against the new Children’s Act.

Nabin Chandra Ghimire of National Campaign for Child Rights said the rally was held despite their request not to hold such programmes until the government amended the act. “Moreover we were compelled to stage protest as children were used in the rally.”

Silwal was released after being detained at Metropolitan Police Circle, Singhadurbar, for a few hours. Rights activists had earlier torn down copies of the act during a programme organised jointly by the government and various organisations on October 2 in Kathmandu, alleging law promoted child labour.

The law criminalises corporal punishment of children. It also prohibits physical and mental torture or degrading treatment of children either at home, school or other places.

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