Millions of children forced to work in hazardous sectors must be stopped28 January 2023
The total number of child labourers in the country is 1.7 million. Among them, the number of children engaged in hazardous work is 1.2 million. The state minister for labour and employment has informed this in the parliament.
Bangladesh made some moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in 2021. A recent study report mentioned that children are forced to perform dangerous tasks in the production of garments and leather goods sectors in the country. However, Bangladesh's export-oriented industry leaders and entrepreneurs have opposed this report's findings over child labour and forced labour in their industries.
The US Department of Labour report said other hazardous sectors in which children work include tanneries, shipbreaking and the dried fish industry. Children are forced to work in the dried fish industry all day without protective gear and are exposed to chemicals and salt.
The government has established rules and regulations related to child labour and also removed 5,088 children in vulnerable situations from 23 districts through labour inspections. However, gaps exist in Bangladesh's legal framework to adequately protect children from the worst forms of child labour, including the minimum age for work, commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour in drying of fish and production of bricks.
In 2021, labour law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh took actions to address child labour. However, gaps exist within the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments authority that may hinder adequate labour law enforcement.
Inadequate support to poor and inappropriate development schemes still put millions of children out of school and forced labour as well. The government must address the root cause of child labour, and its poverty and inequality.