Child Labor Scenario of Bangladesh: Some Recommendations About to Ban the Child Labor

Child labor is an international concern which is swelling day by day linked with poverty, inadequate educational prospects, gender inequity, and a lot of health hazards. The child labor issue has become one of the most remarkable matters in the
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    Manjurul Hossain Reza, K. Ramanathan Kalimuthu, Nilufar Yasmin  277   WWW.GJOES.ORG e-ISSN: 2682-7662, Volume 1, Issue 3, Pages 277-287, October 2019   Child Labor Scenario of Bangladesh: Some Recommendations About to Ban the Child Labor 1 Manjurul Hossain Reza*, 2 K. Ramanathan Kalimuthu, 3 Nilufar Yasmin   1,2,3 Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Malaysia Corresponding Author:  Abstract Child labor is an international concern which is swelling day by day linked with poverty, inadequate educational prospects, gender inequity, and a lot of health hazards. The child labor issue has become one of the most remarkable matter in the developing countries as like  Bangladesh. After independence, Bangladesh has since suffered military unrest, overpopulation,  poverty, and natural disasters and the child labor issue is enormous and cannot be overlooked. Child labor practices were humiliated by social reformers because it was harmful to the health as well as children ’s wellbeing and happiness. Children of Bangladesh are now working in multidimensional sectors like agriculture, service sector, steel industry, ship breaking, construction, domestic work, transport, etc. for themselves and their family. This study indicates the child labor increase in a developing country like Bangladesh and the negative effects of child labor on society. The purpose of this article is to present the socio-economic scenario of child labor in Bangladesh based on a review of existing literature and secondary data analysis. Keywords:   Child Labor; poverty; education; health; socioeconomic   Introduction Child labor has been a significant global issue associated with poverty, insufficient educational opportunities, and gender disparity (Ibrahim, Abdalla, Jafer, Abdelgadir, & de Vries, 2018). Child labor endures to be a developmental challenge even after decades of adopting international and national strategies to battle with it and there is also a regional absorption of the problem with Southern Asia (Mondal et al., 2012). Estimating the number of children working around the world is a difficult task. This practice of employing children to perform any sort of harmful and dangerous work is considered exploitative by many international organizations (Zaman, Matin, & Kibria, 2014). According to child labor report 2017, in the world 152 million children are involved in child labor, where 73 million children are involved in hazardous work (International Labour Organization, 2017). In African region percentage of child labor is 19.6% of total labor, Asia pacific region 7.4% of total labor, Americas region 5.3% of total labor, Europe and central Asia 4.1% of total labor, Arab States 2.9% of total labor. According to ILO 5-11 years old children are large in quantity and the percentage is 48%, the percentage of 12-14 years old children is 28%, 15- 17 years’ children    Manjurul Hossain Reza, K. Ramanathan Kalimuthu, Nilufar Yasmin  278   WWW.GJOES.ORG percentage is 24%. It is a remarkable matter that 5- 11 years’ children are involve d in labor at a greater extent, that means lower age children are in large quantity. It has also seen that most of the children are working in agricultural sector and the percentage is 70.9%, then in services sector 17.2% and in industry 11.9%. Above all in total child labor the boys are 88 million, 58% and the girls are 64 million, 42% (International Labour Organization, 2017). Child labor is a curse for the civilization. Poverty coupled with rapid growth of population, illiteracy and ignorance are menacingly contributing to the increase in child labor. Children are employed in public and domestic sectors as they are cheap and uncomplaining labor force in comparison to adults (Mondal et al., 2012). Social norms and economic realities mean that child labor is widely accepted and very common in Bangladesh. Many families rely on the income generated by their children for survival, so child labor is often highly valued (Unicef, 2010).The primary cost of child labor is the associated reduct ion in investment in the child’s human  capital, which occurs chiefly because child labor interferes with schooling. Many economists argue that child labor is a symptom of poverty and that its reduction can most effectively by accomplished through the alleviation of poverty (Tonetto, 2016). The problem of child labor as faced by the developing economies today has indeed serious dimensions (Bhat, 2009). Low income and poor institutions are driving forces behind the prevalence of child labor worldwide. As a result, some economic events or policies can have ambiguous effects on child labor (Edmonds & Pavcnik, 2005). In Bangladesh large number of children are working in the existing labor market and it is the matter of sorrow that when it is time to go to school with books in the hands, the unfortunate children are being forced to work insensitively and intentionally only for the existence and income generation of the family. It is also shameful that the working places, they are battered by the adult workers mentally and sexually (Kamruzzaman, 2015; Shahjahan, Ara, & Ayaz, 2016; Zaman et al., 2014). The child labor in vulnerable conditions, exposed to hazards including street crime, violence, drugs, sexual abuse, toxic fumes and substances without adequate safety, carrying heavy loads and using dangerous machinery (M. Islam, Islam, Ali, & Rahman, 2009; Jamal Hossain & Habibur Rahaman, 2011). Child labor is found in every part of the world, particularly in developing countries. In many families, child labor makes up about one third of their family income. In addition, poverty and economic scarcity leads to the child labor (Cannon & Cannon, 2016; K. M. M. Rahman, Islam, & Tareque, 2016). This paper has taken an attempt to analyze the child labor scenario of Bangladesh based on secondary data of different organizations and the literature review of existing articles. Meaning of Child Labor The term child labor refers to when children are working in any type of work that is dangerous and harmful to children’s health or the work hinders their education  (Verma, 2018). Child labor is defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and dignity and is harmful to physical and mental development (Shahjahan et al., 2016). The WHO defines child victimization as all forms of physical and emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health,  survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. According to UNICEF, “Child labor is work that is likely to interfere with a child’s      Manjurul Hossain Reza, K. Ramanathan Kalimuthu, Nilufar Yasmin  279   WWW.GJOES.ORG education and development; labor that exceeds a minimum number of hours, labor that is hazardous; or labor performed by a child who is underage according to state legislation. UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, defines child labor as work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work. For children aged 5 to 11, this would include at least one hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week. For the 12 to 14 age group, this would include at least 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week and for children aged 15-17, child labor occurs when a child works at least 43 hours of economic or domestic work per week. The 1999 International Labor Organization convention defines a child as an individual under the age of 18 years (International Labour Organization, 2017). According to the ILO, the term child labor refers to work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school, obliging them to leave school prematurely or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work. This definition includes types of work that are mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful to children; or disrupts schooling (International Labour Organization, 2017; E. Islam, Mahmud, & Rahman, 2013). ILO established a legal promise to stop child labor and make sure that children below a certain “minimum age” are not employed  Table 1 Minimum Age and Working Criteria of Child Labor Criteria Condition The minimum age at which children can start work Possible exceptions for developing countries Hazardous work Any work which is likely to  jeopardize children’s health, safety or morals should not be done by anyone under the age of 18 18 (16 under strict conditions) 18 (16 under strict conditions) Light work Children between the ages of 13 and 15 years old may do light work, as long as it does not threaten their health and safety, or hinder their education or vocational orientation and training. 13-15 12-14 Basic Minimum Age The minimum age for work should not be below the age for finishing compulsory schooling, which is generally 15 15 14 Source:  International Labor Organization (ILO)    Manjurul Hossain Reza, K. Ramanathan Kalimuthu, Nilufar Yasmin  280   WWW.GJOES.ORG Child Labor Scenario in Bangladesh In Bangladesh, complexities or ambiguities of existing laws relating to child labor are the main obstacles in enforcing them. There is no uniform minimum age to enter into labor force. And the meaning of child, adolescent and young person is anomalous in the relevant laws and regulations (Siddiqua, 1933). The children of poor families of Bangladesh suffer from hunger and mental agony which harms a child’s development. Some of the children from these families have to go to works instead of going to school, which is against child rights (Mohajan, 2016). Figure 1 Statistics on Children’s  Work and Education in Bangladesh Source:  US Department of Labor, 2016 The worst form of child labor or hazardous work is a common situation in Bangladesh and the employers find no punishment for engaging the children in these types of works. Hazardous works includes all the works are done by children which are hazardous either by the nature of the work itself, such as work with aggressive chemicals or sharp tools (Basu, 1999; Mohajan, 2016). In Bangladesh, most working children are employed by their parents and themselves (who are orphan) in manufacturing establishments or other forms of wage employment (Edmonds & Pavcnik, 2005). Children in Bangladesh perform dangerous tasks in garment production. Children also engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including forced child labor in the production of dried fish and bricks. Figure 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Bangladesh (Labor, 2016). I t is clearly established that a child’s labor force participation is the outcome of a decision process undertaken at the household of family level and sometimes it is considered that a child is the last economic resource of the household (Bazen, 2005). In Bangladesh, economic survival of the family depends on child labor irrespective of whether it is carried out in hazardous or non-hazardous activities, in formal or informal economy, or even in paid or unpaid family activity (Galli, 2001). The direct cost of schooling in Bangladesh can exclude some children from school. One of the most important direct costs underlying the process of drop out is school fees where these are imposed and indirect cost of pens/pencils, exercise books, private coaching, transportation, and school uniform remains a relative economic burden for poor households (Sabates, Hossain, & Lewin, 2013).    Manjurul Hossain Reza, K. Ramanathan Kalimuthu, Nilufar Yasmin  281   WWW.GJOES.ORG Parents put the children to work as part of a survival strategy to minimize the risk of an interruption of the income stream, which may be caused by failed harvests or loss of employment of an adult household member (Ravinder Rena, 2016). The issue of child labor in Bangladesh became most discussed and debated in early 1990’s when the United States and other foreign buyers refused to import garments from Bangladesh as long as child labor was being used by this industry (Khanam, 2004, 2006). In Bangladesh Poor parents always want to get rid of poverty and the earning of children helps them to relief from poverty in a little extent (Reza & Nilufar Yasmin, 2019), so they like to involve their children in work (Hosen, 2010). In Bangladesh it has found to have 60.42% underweight and 6.25% overweight condition with the ability 63.75% of them to manage thrice meals a day although their hygiene practices are not in well off status (Hakim, 2018; Hakim & Rahman, 2016). The child as domestic worker is often the victim of physical, mental and even sexual violence by their employers. Child domestic worker often victims of torture and sometime victimized by severe torture, even fatal injury (Kamruzzaman, 2015). For every child domestic worker verbal, mental, physical or sexual abuse is common problem (Hakim, 2018). Most of the child laborers work in hazardous conditions such as direct contact of pesticides, chemicals, dusts and carcinogenic agents in agriculture, mining and quarrying, and manufacturing. These increase the risks of developing bronchial complaints, cancers and other form of life threatening diseases (Zaman et al., 2014). In Bangladesh legal protections regarding child labor are limited and the capacity to enforce child labor laws remains weak. Bangladesh maintains a low compulsory education age (Reza, 2018). Children in Bangladesh are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, primarily in dangerous activities in agriculture and domestic service (Arrow et al., 1997; Zaman et al., 2014). Rural working children are mainly engaged in agricultural activities and urban working children are mostly involved with formal working sector (Shafiq, 2007; Shahjahan et al., 2016). It is also mentionable that usually children working in the industrial sector have no contract of employment. This ultimately makes it difficult for them to stand up and fight for their rights (Shahjahan et al., 2016). Much of the data concerning hazardous work for children in Bangladesh relates to industry. But children in the agriculture sector also face many dangers. In rural areas they frequently work with machinery that is unsafe, lift loads that are too heavy for them, and face extremes of temperature (Kamruzzaman, 2015) and long-term risks from insecticides, herbicides, and agrochemicals (Kamruzzaman, 2015; Wright, 2003). Some of the children filmed secretly making cheap hand-rolled cigarettes, popularly known as bidis, for 80 takas ($1) a day look barely 10 years old (Stratford, 2018). The children, who are working at match factories, construction sites, bidi factories and houses, are the worst sufferers in terms of working conditions, wages, physical and mental pressure, hygiene and abuse. Causes of Child Labor in Bangladesh This increased population is primarily a result of changes in fertility, mortality, and migration rates, which together create many problems, namely, shortages in food, housing, employment opportunities, and strains on the education system and the infrastructure of country (Gharaibeh & Hoeman, 2003). In Bangladesh, poverty is the main reason of child labor. Poverty is strongly positively correlated with child labor. Free and compulsory education of good quality up to age 20 year to enter into employment is a key tool in preventing child labor. All researchers and practitioners agree that poverty is the main determinant of child labor supply, and that child labor
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