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POST TIME: 13 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 June, 2019 01:11:28 AM
Children continue to work in hazardous jobs
EVERY YEAR THE WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOUR REMINDS US HOW FAR BEHIND WE STILL ARE WHEN IT COMES TO ERADICATING CHILD LABOUR

Children continue to work in hazardous jobs

The World Day against Child Labour was observed in Bangladesh along with the rest of the world yesterday. Unfortunately even in this day and age millions of children work in other peoples’ houses on a daily basis. They include children who ‘live in’ and those who live separately from their employers, those who are paid for their work, those who are not paid and those who receive ‘in-kind’ benefits, such as food and shelter. These child workers are among the most exploited and abused. They face persistent discrimination, exclusion from labour laws, isolation, and dissatisfaction due to the invisible nature of their work. They are young, unaware of their rights, separated from their families and dependent on their employers. Their freedom of movement is often solely dependent on their employer’s discretion. Their isolation makes it difficult for them to seek help or for outsiders to detect cases where they suffer from abuse.

Since a large portion of children also work in either the agricultural sector or are self-employed, these areas are totally unregulated. There is a need for the federal and provincial governments to broaden the scope of child labour laws and to plug the large gaps. Poverty may be a major cause of child labour but poverty is also caused by child labour. A child who fails to go to school will end up working in menial jobs without learning any major skills and will consequently remain poor. The vicious cycle of poverty will thus continue to be perpetrated.

Not only have we failed to prevent child labour, we have also allowed the number of children working in hazardous conditions to go up, according to a child rights organisation. Children from less affluent backgrounds are forced to work in severe circumstances as bus conductors, domestic help, tanners, casters, etc., leaving them exposed to physical, economic and even sexual exploitation. There's little scope for these children to acquire necessary education or skills to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. In the process, they are being robbed of their childhood and a decent shot at future.

The authorities must be more serious about implementing the existing laws if it is to live up to its own promise to eradicate one of the most disturbing forms of exploitation in Bangladesh.