Child labour in all forms must be eliminated for a better Bangladesh21 April 2023
IT IS no new news for us in Bangladesh to know that Bangladesh children are subjected to the worst forms of child labour including commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour in the drying of fish and the production of bricks. Foreign countries and organisations often point out such cruel exploitation of children.
At every nook and cranny in Bangladesh, children with age as low as nine/ten years are seen engaged in hard physical work. They also face corporal punishment of the worst nature when they fail to deliver according to the desires of their employers. In the capital Dhaka, the heart of the country, numerous such children are working as helpers of human haulers and buses, not to mention those wretched poor boys who on the streets sell vegetables on rickshaw vans that are also pulled by them.
However, what is saddening for us is that the relevant government people and organisations here do not show any concern about how the dreams of tens and thousands of children across the country are getting crushed due to this social vice.
In Bangladesh poverty of a great number of families pushes their children to perform dangerous works in the production of garments and leather goods, and since the employers get child labour at a very cheap rate, they do not feel any qualms of conscience to engage the underage children in hard work. Still, the Bangladesh Labor Act does not apply to the informal sector, and it is here the most grueling child labour occurs.
When penalties for child labour violations are imposed, that are done only after lengthy legal processes. Moreover, when courts do impose fines, they are too low to deter child labour law violations. Therefore, it is necessary that the relevant law should cover the informal sector also with provision for stringent punishment for the employers who employ underage children to hard physical work.
In rural as well as urban Bangladesh, poor families now want to send their children to schools but the cost of living that has increased manifold recently is in no way helpful for these families to fulfill their dreams. A government that is busy to remain in power through illegal means can hardly be expected to deliver on child labour.