Child Labour

Searching Every Means To Survive This Pandemic

Children who fail to go to school are at risk of being involved in heavy work without any skills. But in return for this labor, they often do not get their due. As a result they remain poor. Thus the vicious cycle of poverty continues. We have always failed to protect the rights of the child, writes Makama Mahmud Chowdhury.

Today’s children will take the responsibility of running the country, nation and state of tomorrow. Every child is thought to be a potential leader for the future. The future and possibilities of the future lie in the child. Therefore, it is essential to develop children as worthy citizens. But unfortunately most of the children in our country are still disenfranchised and neglected which fuels the growth of child labor. Due to scarcity of money they have to be involved in various occupations from the very beginning of their lives. Although World Day against Child Labor is observed every year to raise awareness among people, millions of children are still dependent on their labor earnings. Child labor also known as child slavery is a major obstacle to future development and possibilities. India’s most famous Nobel laureates once said, “Child slavery is a crime against humanity and Humanity itself is at stake here.”

The world is in turmoil today due to the Corona Virus pandemic. Its devastating effect has caused havoc to everything and the victims of child labor are no longer been spared from it. How the victimized children are in this scourge of Corona Virus. Corona has stopped everything but has it been able to stop child labor? COVID-19 has result in a rise in poverty and therefore to an increase in child labour as households uses every available means to survive. Some studies show that a one percentage point rise in poverty leads to at least a 0.7 percent increase in child labour in certain countries.

Child labor usually refers to the inclusion of children in works where they are deprived of most of their rights. For example when it’s time for the children to go to school they are seen breaking bricks in their brick kiln. Child labor perpetuates other social problems including poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and population growth etc. Bangladesh has a high rate of population growth, poverty and illiteracy due to which the rate of child labor is flourishing. As a result of the ever-increasing rate of child labor, many children have to spend their days working in people’s homes and other places. Children deprived of birth rights have to live separately. Some of them are re-employed at their employers’ homes and get paid for their work with full-time service. There are also those who do not receive money for their work but get innate benefits like food, clothing and shelter.

According to the ILO survey, the number of child laborers in the world is about 366 million. One out of every six children is employed in child labor. About 22,000 children die every year due to trafficking, terrorism, torture etc. According to the Department of Labor, there are 69 lakh child laborers in the country. According to a survey report titled Bangladesh Child Labor Survey-2013, about nine and a half lakh boys and seven and a half lakh girls are employed in various garments and factories. Besides, about 13 lakh children are engaged in hazardous works. Separation from the families of children employed in child labor makes it difficult to identify areas where they can be helped and where they are being abused.

One of the major problems of Child labor is insecure life; chances of sexual exploitation are high among these children for lack of night shelters, family support and their inability to protect themselves. Child labor deprives children of their childhood, potential and dignity. It prevents them from going to school as well as disrupts their health, mentality and natural development. This paves the way for a new illiterate generation. It kills the potential of the new generation by devaluing manpower. Children who fail to go to school are at risk of being involved in heavy work without any skills. But in return for this labor, they often do not get their due. As a result they remain poor. Thus the vicious cycle of poverty continues. We have always failed to protect the rights of the child. These poor children are forced to work hard even in difficult situations such as bus driver, domestic helper, working as tanners and castors. The future possibilities lie in the head of our children. It is everyone’s responsibility and duty to ensure their healthy and vigorous development. They need to be brought out of physical, mental and economic exploitation. To get out of the vicious circle of poverty, they need to be given the opportunity to acquire the necessary educational skills. Besides, there is no alternative to enforcing the law to bring child labor under control.

Due to Child labor, children are losing their childhood and future. In order to eradicate this most dangerous problem of exploitation in Bangladesh, the authorities need to be more serious about enforcing existing laws as well as their own commitments. So everyone should be in tune with the lines-

If the eyes fall on our poor children,

They shouldn’t be neglected,

We all swear today with our hands on our chests,

We will stop child labor by any means.

(Makama Mahmud Chowdhury is a student, Dept. of Civil Engineering, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology).  


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