Kailash Satyarthi, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner (jointly with Malala Yousafzai) and India’s child rights activist, is coming to Dhaka on January 9. Earlier in 2016, he came to Dhaka to attend a function at St. Joseph’s School. On that occasion, he said very firmly, Bangladesh is his second homeland. In 2015, he appealed to the concerned authorities not to reduce the minimum age for marriage of girls in Bangladesh. In short, Bangladesh and its society are not only familiar to him তিনি he is well acquainted with its various events and events.
But more importantly, as a child rights activist, he is equally concerned about the millions of children in Bangladesh who are left helpless and engaged in cruel occupations such as child labor. In this situation, I think it would be very relevant to discuss the child labor situation in Bangladesh on the occasion of his arrival in Dhaka.
At present, the number of children under 14 years of age in Bangladesh is about 26.21 percent of the total population, which is about 4.55 crore. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the number of children directly involved in formal labor is about 4.6 million, which is about 13.4 percent of children aged 5-14. And 63 percent of these child laborers are in rural areas and only 16 percent in urban areas. However, there are good reasons to believe that in reality this number of child laborers will be much higher. The data, based on data collected from the secondary level, shows that there is a significant discrepancy between urban and rural child labor. In fact, the number of child laborers in the city seems to be much higher and that is based on experience. It is pertinent to note that the mentioned child laborers constitute about 7% of the total labor force of the country, which is a very cruel statistic.
However, the largest number of child laborers are currently working in the garment industry, food processing plant, transportation, agriculture, etc. Although small in number, a significant portion of them are involved in occupations such as drug trafficking and smuggling, and prostitution, which is not only worrisome — but also a major obstacle to social progress. And of greater concern is the fact that while Bangladesh is gradually advancing on the path of economic progress, this rate of child labor is not decreasing at all, but is increasing. Unfortunately, the issue also indicates that Bangladesh’s economy is moving forward using exploitative processes such as the use of illegal and immoral child labor. The country’s garment industry currently employs more than 1.7 million child laborers, accounting for about 36 percent of the total child labor and working up to 11 hours a day. However, in order to ensure that children of this age go to school without having to work in a factory, the Constitution of the State of Bangladesh clearly states that “the State shall take effective measures to provide free and compulsory education to all boys and girls” (Article 18 of the Constitution). . But despite this constitutional commitment, those child laborers are not getting the opportunity to go to school, on the contrary, they have to work 11 hours a day in the workplace.
We all know more or less why and how this inhuman situation created the society and politics of this country. However, in the light of statistics, the idea becomes clearer when we look at things together; And in fact, to make that idea clearer in front of the larger population of the country, so many dull figures have been brought together here. This time I will look at the causes of child labor and first of all I would like to bring to the fore the above-mentioned issue that 73% of child laborers are currently working in the village i.e. they come from rural farming families. But in the economic policy framework of the state, the peasantry is now the most marginalized class. However, in a country where agriculture has expanded so much and production in this sector has increased so much, the contribution of the farmer’s own initiative and experienced creative energy is more important than the contribution of the state. However, due to the fact that both the village and the peasantry are at the very edge of the power structure, the neglect and neglect of rural children’s education and their professional future is in fact the origin of rural child labor. As a result, in order to reduce child labor in rural areas, the state must give importance and attention to the education and health of rural children and the livelihood of their parents.
The recruitment of child laborers in the garment factories should be stopped and the suitable workers should be paid at such a rate that they get the opportunity to teach their children proper education. Second, they should in no way be forced to work for more than the ideal working hours, so that they can spend the rest of the time outside of work on their children’s education and future formation. And I think these two issues should be applied equally to the workers of other industries like garment industry. Note that the owners of our garments or other industries almost never want to admit that they have child labor in their factories. Only after the fires in Tazreen Garments, Rana Plaza or Hashem Food Industries did the burnt bodies of many teenagers come out, it is only acknowledged that most of the factories in the country have child labor. In fact, this tendency of denying the truth is also a big reason for the survival of child labor at an undesirable rate in Bangladesh.
Kailash Satyarthi is also playing an important role in preventing child trafficking and building a resistance against the vicious international cycle of forced trafficking of girls for prostitution, which is very relevant for Bangladesh at the moment. In that case, I think that the individuals and organizations of Bangladesh who are working for the prevention of international human trafficking, can take advantage of the opportunity of his upcoming visit to Bangladesh and build effective communication and relationship with him.
Kailash Satyarthi has spoken about the prevention of child labor as well as child marriage and is working on it, which is closely linked with the elimination of child labor. Because children are the victims of child marriage. And child marriage is just as inhumane and brutal as child labor, where most married girls are recognized victims of rape. However, the unfortunate fact is that the position of Bangladesh in the field of child marriage is not only fragile but also extremely shameful. Bangladesh is the second poorest country in Africa after Niger and Chad. Apart from Bangladesh, there is no other country in South Asia among the 10 most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of child marriage. So who is enjoying or reaping the benefits of that higher growth in Bangladesh? And even in such a situation, how could the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs decide that in special circumstances, the minimum age for marriage of a girl could be 18 years? What a backward decision!
To protest against the cruelty of child labor and at the same time to appeal to the world to liberate them from this inhumane practice of slavery, Kailash Satyarthi set an example by setting a precedent of 60,000 kilometers of movement in 103 countries under the ‘Save Bachpan’ movement in 1996. Boiki will be a huge milestone! He has liberated about 6,000 children from child labor at various stages of his movement, which is undoubtedly a great achievement in the path of human welfare. The fact that he has risen from the most privileged position in Madhya Pradesh to add child labor and child marriage prevention to one of the most important tasks of the world at this moment, is a great contribution to the whole of mankind! With his upcoming visit to Bangladesh in mind, will the concerned quarters of Bangladesh also take initiative to do something in this regard?
Author: Researcher and essayist.