Child Labour in Bangladesh Industry

Bangladesh is a south Asian country. It is also known as a part of the third world country. Bangladesh has a unstable economy, and in the 21st century we are still dependent on our agricultural economic structure. We are trying quite hard to put an impact in the world economic system. For this we are pursuing the trend of the modernization of the western world. Still we are facing the economic instability. Changing the aspect of our industrialization and economic perspective we are trying our best to fit in the world economic system. To the economic system we are the agriculture based third world country, trying to reach the top.

To be an active member of the world economic system we needed an industrial revolution, as once European countries had. And now these days we are trying to become a manufacturing industrialized country.

We are quite long way from the capitalist mode of production and we are showing all the negative factors of the industrialization. Among those the child labour problem is the worst of its kind. Though In Bangladesh the unemployment rate is about 6.2 corer but in the labour force the child labour is very alarming.

8 % of children (5-14 years) in child labour (1999-2003)

10% of male children (5-14 years) in child labour (1999-2003)

5% of female children (5-14 years) in child labour (1999-2003)

These are the situation according to UNICEF about the child labor position in Bangladesh. Later we shall discuss the other aspect of this phenomenon.

What is child labour?:

“Child labour” defines an extremely complex set of phenomena. In many countries, part-time work is a fact of life for many children and is neither exploitative nor detrimental to the child’s development. In combating child labour, it is necessary, therefore, to consider carefully its various forms, making a distinction between work and exploitation, and analyzing the developmental and cultural contexts. Canada, for example, has not signed the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Minimum Age Convention. It is widely agreed that exploitative child labour is strongly associated with poverty. The countries with the highest illiteracy rates, lowest school enrolment ratios and serious nutritive deficiencies are in general those that have the highest proportions of children working.

The phenomenon of child exploitation is equally complex. It is not necessarily linked to poverty alone and may be associated with low levels of development, lack of educational opportunities and certain cultural traditions. Solutions such as the imposition of a minimum wage or compulsory education, which ignore economic, social and cultural factors underlying child labour, run the risk of worsening the situation of children. Unless some alternative is provided for the children and their families, many children dismissed from work will be left to fend for themselves in the streets or will take up more hazardous employment.

Child work can be expected to decrease gradually with higher levels of development. However, the eradication of specific forms of child exploitation and a massive reduction in child labour can only be achieved through political commitment, specific policies and development programmes CHILDREN of the age of 5-14 years, employed to work for pay or profit, or without pay, in a FAMILY enterprise or organisations. Economic hardships of many families force most of their children to get involved in income generating activities.

About one-tenth of global children population under 15 years of age work in various occupations, some of which are hazardous. Most of these children grow and live in absolute POVERTY and deprivation. They do not get opportunities to acquire education and skills to ensure a better life for them-selves. Child labour was first recognized as a social problem with the introduction of factories in the late 18th century in Great Britain. In the eastern and mid-western United States, child labour was acknowledged as a problem after the Civil War, and in the South, after 1910. In earlier days, children worked as apprentices in factories or as servants in families, but in factories their employment soon turned into virtual SLAVERY.

This was mitigated in Britain by acts of parliament enacted in 1802 and later years, in other places of industrialized Europe. Although most European nations had child labour laws by 1940, the urgency of production during World War II brought many children back into the labour market. In the United States, the Supreme Court declared Congressional child labour laws unconstitutional in 1918 and 1922. A constitutional amendment was passed in Congress in1924 but it was not approved by many states.

The First Labour Standards Act of 1938 set a minimum age limit of 18 for occupations designated hazardous and 16 for employment in general. The International Labor Organization, or the ILO, defines child labor as “some types of work” done by children under the age of 18. The ILO also says that child labor includes full-time work done by children under 15 years of age that prevents them from going to school (getting an education), or that is dangerous to their health. Child labour and World industry sector:

Around the world, approximately 250 million children are child laborers .According to the new estimates, there are some 250 million children 5-14 years old who are toiling in economic activity in developing countries. For close to one-half of them (or 120 million), this work is carried out on a full time basis, while for the remaining one-half it is combined with schooling or other non-economic activities. Among school going children, up to one-third of the boys (33%) and more than two-fifths (42%) of the girls are also engaged in economic activities on a part-time basis. The overall estimates of 250 million working children are exclusive of children who are engaged in regular non-economic activities, including those who provide services of domestic nature on a full-time basis in their own parents’ or guardians’ households.

The number of such children is relatively large (about 15%-20% of the total child population of the same age-cohort). For obvious reasons, child labour is most prevalent in the developing regions of the globe. In absolute terms, it is Asia (excluding Japan), as the most densely populated region of the world, that has the most child workers (approximately 61% of the world’s total as compared with 32 % in Africa, 7% in Latin America and the Caribbean, and one-fifth of one per cent in Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand). But in relative terms, Africa comes first in economic activity participation rate of children which is estimated at a little more than two children out of five (or 41%) of the total children 5-14 years old.

The corresponding proportion in Asia is around one-half of the level in Africa (i.e., more than one in five children or 22%), and it is one in six (or 17%) in Latin America, and close to one in three (29%) in Oceania. In all regions, more boys than girls participate in economic activity. The highest participation rate of boys is in Africa (46%) as compared with the rates in Oceania (33%), Asia (23%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (22%). The gender differential in the rates is greatest in Latin America (22% for boys to 11% for the girls), followed by Africa (46% to 37%, respectively, and the latter is also the highest participation rate of girls by region); and Oceania (33% to 26%). The differential between boys and girls participation rates is smallest in Asia (23% to 20%).

Bangladeash and child labour:Child labour is not illegal in Bangladesh, although the law discourages employment of children below 14 years of age in factories. Children aged 5-14 years are found working in households, fields and factories as paid or unpaid labour. The rights of children are neglected in Bangladesh. Increasing abuse and infringement of children’s rights have triggered off a concern over it. A dense population, limited resources, and frequent natural calamities complicate the poverty situation in Bangladesh and children are the worst victims.

There is a number of laws and acts relating to the protection and welfare of children in Bangladesh. The Minimum Wages Ordinance (1961) provides for payment of minimum wages to all workers including juveniles and prohibits employers from paying juveniles (below 18 years) less than the minimum rates fixed by the Board set up under this ordinance. The Shops and Establishments Act (1965) prohibits employment of children below 12 years in shops and commercial establishments. The Act also regulates the working hours of persons below 18 years.

The Factories Act (1965) prohibits employment of persons below 14 years in dangerous occupations and lays down regulations for a secure and healthy working condition for a child or adolescent. The Act also provides for crèche facilities in a factory for female workers’ children below 6 years. The Children’s Act (1974) and Children’s Rules (1976) protect children’s interests during all kinds of legal processes. The Act provides for separate juvenile courts and forbids a joint trial of an adult and child offender even when an offence has been jointly committed. It lays down measures for the care and protection of destitute and neglected children.

The Mines Act (1923) prohibits employment of a person below 15 years of age in any mine and regulates employment of youths between 15 and 17 years of age. The Employment of Children Act (1938) prohibits employment of children in certain occupations in railways and ports, and in selling goods on railway cars or buses or within the limits of any port. The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act (1933) declares void an agreement to pledge the labour of a child below 15 years.

The usual scenario in Bangladesh sees girl children engaged in activities within the inner ‘female’ spheres, whereas boys work in the outer ‘male’ spaces. This frequently results in high ratios of school dropout amongst girls. The potential labour power of children is a significant aspect for families as the survival of households depends on their ability to reproduce themselves. The perceived economic value attached to children greatly encourages people to raise large families. Expectations of assistance from children arise from the deep-rooted concept of sharing the burden amongst the adult members of the family.

Early participation in income generating activities compels children to experience a first transition through different stages of their childhood; this transition is important in conceptualizing children’s productive life cycles. Analysis of data generated in the 1991 census and of the trends in the subsequent years suggest that approximately 19% of the total child population (5-14 years) of Bangladesh work as child labour. The proportion is much higher in case of boys (22%) than in case of girls (16%). About 83% of the children employed as child labour work in rural areas and the rest work in urban areas and the ratio is almost the same for both boys and girls.

About 65% of the child labour work in agriculture and 8.5% of them work in manufacturing. There is little variation in distribution of child labour by girls and boys in these two sectors. But gender distribution of child labour in TRANSPORT and communication shows that the proportion of boys to total child labour in this sector is 3%, while that of girls to the same is only 0.1%. Average weekly working hours for child labour in Bangladesh is roughly half of those for adult workers. The wages, or monthly income of the working children, however, are about one-third of those for the latter. Slightly more than 20% households of Bangladesh have working children of age 5-14 years. Thecorresponding figure for urban households is 17% and for rural households, it is 23%.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 1999, the ILO estimated that 28.2 percent of children between ages 10 and 14 in Bangladesh were working. According to child labor survey conducted in 1995 by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, in cooperation with ILO’s statistical agency 1995, the majority of working children were boys; most working children did not participate in schooling; and child labor was predominantly found in rural areas.

Children are found working in a variety of hazardous occupations and sectors, including bidi factories, construction, tanneries, and the seafood and garment industries. Children also work as domestic servants, porters, and street vendors, and are found working on commercial tea farms. Children are reported to be sexually exploited as prostitutes. It is estimated that over 20,000 women and children are trafficked from Bangladesh each year, often for forced labor or prostitution.

In 1991, the Government of Bangladesh made primary education compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 10. In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 96.5 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 81.4 percent. Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Bangladesh. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children’s participation in school. Hazardous Child Labour:

Any comprehensive program, designed to eliminate child labour, should address on a priority basis the most intolerable forms of child labour. In 1995 the Ministry of Labour and Manpower in collaboration with UNICEF undertook a study, entitled “Hazardous Child Labour in Bangladesh” to identify the hazardous economic activities involving children. This study identified the following 27 economic activities as hazardous: 1.Automobile workshop worker

2.Battery re-charging shop worker

3.Bedding manufacturing worker4.Blacksmith5.Brick/stone crushing6.Car painting/metal furniture painting/spray painting works 7.Child prostitution8.Construction9.Dyeing workshop worker10.Electric mechanic11.Engineering workshop worker12.Goldsmith’s assistant13.Hotel/Mess cook14.Laundry boy15.Porter16.Printing press worker17.Rickshaw/rickshaw van puller18.Saw mill worker19.Small soap factory worker (crude process)20.Sweeper21.Scavenger (waste pickers)22.Tannery factory worker23.Tempo/truck/bus helper/unlicensed tempo driver24.Welding worker25.Shrimp processing factory worker (processing by hand)26.Vulcanising workshop assistant27.Vangari (splinter/waste collectors and processors).

The hazards, associated with these activities, were largely due to: exposure to flames, working with electricity, exposure to harmful chemical substances, carcinogens, neurotoxins, gases, fumes and organic dust, handling garbage, high-speed machinery, inappropriate hand tools, sharp equipment, extreme heat or cold, insufficient light, heavy loads, continuous working with ice and water without gloves and stressful working conditions. In many cases the children were found working without adequate safety measures; they did not use gloves, protective shields and masks. When personal protective equipment did not fit children, they had to use alternative devices that did not provide real protection, such as handkerchiefs to cover their nose and mouth.

The activities and workplaces that were discovered to be most hazardous included bedding manufacturing shops, blacksmiths’, making bricks or stone chips, printing press, welding, scavenging, plastic and rubber factories, shrimp processing, engineering workshops and bidi factories. Child workers in urban Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, urban working children either live on the street or in overcrowded slum and squatter settlements. There are 700,000 children under the age of 15 working in urban areas, which is 17 per cent of the total urban labour force. The work in industry, transport, commerce, domestic service, metal & leather factories, construction and in garment factories.

65 per cent of the total labour forces in Bangladesh of 50.1 million work in agriculture. In rural areas, almost a children work o some extent so the statistics on child labour are imprecise. Most children work for their families-the boys in agriculture and the girls mainly working at home. Those families, who are landless, work for rural landowners with their children working along side them in the fields.

Most families in rural areas, who are better off financially, use children in their homes as domestic helpers and for cattle tending and other agriculture work. Children also work in small shops, tea stalls, handloom and bin’ factories and the fishing industry. Most working children do not have the opportunity to attend school. There is a large scale adult unemployment in Bangladesh, so, one wonders why child labour exists. Some studies over the past few years have put forward the following reasons:

1. Poverty and family sizeIn Bangladesh the average family size is six persons. In families where children work, the father often works as either a rickshaw puller or day laborer and the mother as a domestic help. Poverty leads to quarrels; tension and can ultimately result in cruel treatment of children. The mother, being over burdened with work, can loose interest in her children and neglect them. 56% per cent of people of Bangladesh are landless. They either work on the land of others on a contact basis, or become floating labour moving from place to place. Without a stable income the childrenbecome a burden to parents and must find work for their own survival. 2. Victims of migration

In general, neglected children migrate to big cities with their families or alone. Often they must beg or drift on the streets in order to earn a living and will consider any work that helps them survive. 3. Illiteracy & ignorance

Many parents of working children are illiterate and unskilled with little prospect of being able to improve their situation. There is a lack of faith in the existing education system as it does not necessarily lead to employment. Many poor parents feel that it is better for their children to learn by working rather than sending them to school. 4 Child labour law and rights

In practice, child labour laws in Bangladesh do not protect working children. Employers prefer children as they are cheap, productive and obedient. Children working in the industrial sector have no contract of employment and so find it difficult to stand up for themselves and fight for their rights. The demand by factories for child labourers is increasing all the time. 5. Family breakdown

Migration of families, broken families, parental abuse and abandonment, all lead to child labour. 6. Natural calamitiesFloods, land erosion, cyclones etc., have a devastating affect on many area of Bangladesh every year. This further increases the pressures on poor families and leads to many new children entering the labour force. Working children are used and exploited for the benefit of the better-off sector of society. This is not really deliberate exploitation of children by the wealthy, but rather reflects the attitude of society, of children as a source of cheap labour.

Child workers are always faced with bad working conditions, unfixed wages, health hazards, lack of recreation and are exposed to mental, physical and sexual harassment. Child labour is prohibited in Bangladesh under the Employment of Children Act, 1938; The Children (Pledging of Labour) Act, 1933; The Factories Act, 1965; The Plantations Labour Ordinance, 1962 and The Shops and Establishment Act, 1965.

All these laws prohibit the employment of children below 14 years of age. In spite of these laws, children can be found working in garment factories, hotels, brick making, biri factories, mechanical workshops, match factories, agricultural work, domestic work, and as garbage collectors and touts on buses and tampos. In Bangladesh, children work because they and their families are poor and so there is no immediate prospect of eliminating child labour. But that does not mean that nothing can be done. The priority must be to ensure that children are excluded from dangerous and physically demanding work. Children are the future leaders of our nation. By neglecting their basic rights and hampering their process of growth, we are restricting the development of our country.

Causes of child labour in Bangladesh:0 000000 00000Supply factors:Poverty is the single most important factor responsible for the prevalence of child labour in the country. About 55 million people live below the poverty line in Bangladesh. Poor households badly need the money that their children earn. They commonly contribute around 20-25 percent of family income. Since poor households spend the bulk of their income on food, the earnings of working children are critical to their survival. 0 000000 00000

Parents’ perceptions greatly influence their children’s participation in the labour force. The education system of the country in general does not provide poor, disadvantaged children with any immediate prospects of better jobs or higher levels of income. The curriculum, followed in schools, is hardly perceived to be capable of meeting the practical needs of poor families.

Naturally, poor parents fail to appreciate the long-term value of education, and instead opt for the short-term economic gains of child labour. In many cases, the male children of the household are expected to help the father in the field and the female children the mother with the household work. Moreover, parents consider their children’s employment in certain occupations like in the engineering workshop as a rare opportunity to learn employable skills. To them, it is an alternative education with much more practical value than the traditional primary education. 0 00000000000

Even though the government launched the Compulsory Primary Education Program all over the country since January 1993, education remains very expensive for a poor family, which is expected to bear the costs of uniform and transportation. In some areas of the country the expenditure on primary level students represents one-third of the entire income of a typical poor family, though most families have more than one child of the school-going age. Many children are, therefore, forced to work to pay for their own education. 0 000000 00000

Emergencies often contribute to an increase in the supply of child labour. Bangladesh happens to be a land of chronic natural calamities. Floods, cyclones and riverbank erosion render many people homeless and helpless every year. Low-income families have little margin to cope with any such disaster. They also find it very difficult to deal with the distress resulting from abandonment or divorce, or the injury and illness of an adult member of the household. As a result, trapped early in the world of work, children of such families become the worst victims of any kind of disaster, natural or man-made. 0 000000 00000

Demand factors:The lower cost of employing child workers and the irreplaceable skills provided by them are often cited to explain the demand for child labour. Although there is validity in the first argument, the second does not hold water. In all the industries that rely heavily on child labour, most of the tasks performed by children are also performed by adults working side by side with them.

Clearly, children do not have irreplaceable skills. The other factors, responsible for the demand for child labour, seem to be non-economic. Employers are tempted to hire child labour because children are much less aware of their rights and most unlikely to get organised in trade unions. They are also more trustworthy, more willing to take orders and do monotonous work, and less likely to be absent from work. Children’s lower absentee rate is immensely valuable to employers in the informal sector where workers are employed on a daily basis and the employers mustensure the presence of a full contingent of workers each day.

00000000000Magnitude of child labour in Bangladesh :0 0 000000 00000Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in the “National Sample Survey of Child Labour in Bangladesh: 1995-96” defined child labourers as children in the age group of 5-14 years who were found to be working during the survey reference period (preceding 12 months of the day of survey). A child was said to work if he or she was found either working one or more hours for pay or profit or working without pay in a family farm or enterprise during the reference period, or was found not working but had a job or business from which he or she was temporarily absent during the reference period.

According to BBS the number of child labourers was 6.6 million in 1995-96. 19 percent of the total child population (5-14 years) was found to be economically active. 11.6 percent of the child labour force belonged to the 5-9 age group and the rest to the 10-14 age group. 95.6 percent of the child labour force was employed. Of the employed child workers, males constituted 59.8 percent and females 40.2 percent.

Child workers were scattered all over the country. 17 percent of the child labour force lived in the urban areas and the rest in the rural areas. Child workers were present in almost all the sectors of the economy with the exception of mining and utilities. Agriculture accounted for 65.4 percent of the child workers, followed by services (10.3 percent), manufacturing (8.2 percent) and transport and communication (1.8 percent). Other activities including household work accounted for 14.3 percent of working children. 0 000000 00000

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in the “National Sample Survey of Child Labour in Bangladesh: 1995-96” defined child laborers as children in the age group of 5-14 years who were found to be working during the survey reference period (preceding 12 months of the day of survey). A child was said to work if he or she was found either working one or more hours for pay or profit or working without pay in a family farm or enterprise during the reference period, or was found not working but had a job or business from which he or she was temporarily absent during the reference period.

According to BBS the number of child labourers was 6.6 million in 1995-96. 19 percent of the total child population (5-14 years) was found to be economically active. 11.6 percent of the child labour force belonged to the 5-9 age group and the rest to the 10-14 age group. 95.6 percent of the child labour force was employed. Of the employed child workers, males constituted 59.8 percent and females 40.2 percent. Child workers were scattered all over the country. 17 percent of the child labour force lived in the urban areas and the rest in the rural areas.

Child workers were present in almost all the sectors of the economy with the exception of mining and utilities. Agriculture accounted for 65.4 percent of the child workers, followed by services (10.3 percent), manufacturing (8.2 percent) and transport and communication (1.8 percent). Other activities including household work accounted for 14.3 percent of working children.

Measure to prevent child labour

The Government of Bangladesh has been a member of ILO-IPEC since 1994. Soon after, a child labor survey was conducted in 1995 by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics with technical assistance from the ILO’s statistical agency. The ILO-IPEC program in Bangladesh has implemented 75 action programs targeting the worst forms of child labor through awareness raising, non-formal education, income generating alternatives for families, and capacity building of partner organizations.

These programs include USDOL-funded projects to eliminate child labor in the garment sector and in five hazardous industries, including bid is construction, leather tanneries, matches, and child domestic services. In 2000, USDOL also provided funding for a follow-up national child labor survey to be conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics with technical assistance from ILO-IPEC’s SIMPOC.

Bangladesh is one of three countries that participate in the ILO-IPEC South Asia Sub-Regional Programme to Combat Trafficking in Children for Exploitative Employment (funded by USDOL). The Bangladesh Ministry of Labor, with the support of USAID, is implementing projects to combat child labor in selected hazardous industries. To combat trafficking, the Department of Social Services under the Ministry of Welfare is implementing a project for socially disadvantaged women and children, that specifically assists sex workers. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has a child trafficking project to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked children and to raise awareness about the issue.

In order to promote education and increase enrollment, the Government of Bangladesh and the WFP implemented a Food for Education Program in 1993, which gives families wheat or rice in exchange for sending their children to school. In April 2000, the government began a stipend program that provides 20 taka (USD 0.36) per month to mothers of poor households as an incentive to send their children to school. The government collaborates with UNICEF on the Basic Education for Hard to Reach Urban Children’s Project (BEHTRUC) that provides two-year basic literacy education to working children living in poor, urban areas.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment varies according to sector. The Employment of Children Act prohibits children less than 12 years of age from working in areas such as tanning as well as bidi, carpet, cloth, cement, and fireworks manufacturing, and it prohibits children less than 15 years old from working in railways. The Mines Act prohibits children under 15 years old from working in mines. The Factories Act and Rules establishes 14 years as the minimum age for employment in factories, and the Children Act of 1974 prohibits the employment of children less than 16 years as beggars and in brothels.

There are no specific laws covering the informal sectors, such as agriculture and domestic work, although the majority of child workers fall under these categories. The Constitution forbids all forms of forced labor. The Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act prohibits importing women for the purposes of prostitution. The Oppression of Women and Children Act of 1995 prohibit the trafficking of women and girls, and the selling or hiring of girls less than 18 years for prostitution.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment is designated to enforce laborlegislation; however, there are no penalties for breaking c