Sonam Choden, Thimphu
Some children, as young as 12 years old, are compelled to do hard labour, not just to earn a living for them, but also to support their families.
A labour force survey 2011, found 4,400 Bhutanese children aged 13 to 17 years working outside their homes.
Another survey conducted in 2013 found 7,304 people between 15-19 involved in different vocations. However, the report says it is difficult to to know how many fall in the age group of 15-18 years.
Purna Bahadur Tamang left his home to fend for his mother and four siblings when he was a mere 12-year-old child. He began working as a waiter in a restaurant.
Now at 17, he works as a mechanic at one of the workshops in Thimphu.
“I have to work to pay the expenses of my siblings. When I grow up, I want my mother to quit her Job in the National workforce. If I can, I want to become an entrepreneur and open my own workshop.”
He said his father died when he was young and that he will do whatever he can to help his family. He earns a meagre salary of Nu 5,000, a month.
Like Purna, there are about eight, below the age of 18, working in various workshops in Thimphu.
The Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 do not specifically categorise children working in workshops as child labour.
However, officials at the labour ministry said underage children working as mechanics in workshops fall under child labour.
If found flouting the rule, an employer will be fined a minimum of Nu 11,250, states Regulations on Acceptable Forms of Child Labour.
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