Children are the builders of the nation. Today's children will take the responsibility of running the country in future. Therefore, it is essential to develop children as worthy citizens. In developed countries of the world, various care systems have been developed for the physical, mental and intellectual development of children. But in our country children are being deprived of their basic rights in many ways due to illiteracy and poverty. Due to poverty, they have to be involved in various labor occupations from the very beginning of their lives.
According to the definition of children in the United Nations, everyone under the age of 18 is called a child. According to this definition, about 45 per cent of the total population of Bangladesh falls under the category of children.
A survey conducted by the International Labor Organization and UNICEF found that children are employed in about 301 types of economic activities in urban Bangladesh. These include porters, hawkers, rickshaw pullers, florists, garbage collectors, brick-and-mortar breakers, hotel boys, weavers, drug carriers, bidi workers and factory workers.
The first and foremost cause of child labor in Bangladesh is the economic crisis. It is not possible for a poor family to pay for their child's education. As a result, parents lose the motivation to send them to school. In this situation, employing the child is considered profitable by the parents. On the other hand, children who are deprived of the opportunity to go to school become engaged in various activities. Employers, owners, managers and authorities are also very enthusiastic about hiring children as they can be employed at a low cost.
Inadequate job opportunities in villages, social uncertainty, lack of basic necessities, etc. compel people to move from villages to cities. Natural disasters like river erosion, floods, droughts, tidal surges and force a large number of people to migrate in Dhaka. Every such incident is constantly pushing children towards manual labor. Due to poverty and unawareness of the parents, they consider education as a non-profit activity.
Due to the over-reliance on domestic workers for domestic work in the city life, the child who is engrossed in schooling due to the traditional culture is also brought to the city for household chores. There are many children in Bangladesh who cannot eat two handfuls every day. Working children are no exception. They work hard but do not get proper wages. Many child laborers in the city are seen spending the night on the sidewalk. They have no fixed place to live. In this way, they have to struggle and survive in various adversities.
Bangladesh, as a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 3 August 1990, is determined to take any action to prevent child labor. The present government has implemented several measures to prevent child labor. It introduced food in exchange for education for children, unpaid education for girls up to class XII has been introduced, compulsory primary education and free education materials are being provided.
In the light of the National Child Labor Elimination Policy of 2010, nine strategic areas have been identified and assigned responsibilities under the National Action Plan. The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution will look into the implementation of policies and institutional development aimed at eliminating child labor.
The number of child laborers in the labor market of Bangladesh is increasing day by day. If the number of child laborers increases in this way, the whole country and nation will be plunged into darkness. Since children will take the helm of the country and the nation in the coming days, necessary steps should be taken to eliminate child labor in no time.
Wadia Ayshi is a Student at The Department Of English, University Of Dhaka