Eliminating child labour still remains a big challenge for Bangladesh as the country currently has 17 lakh children engaged in different forms of work, many of which are extremely hazardous. And without making implementable workplans, enforcing the relevant laws, revising the existing national policies as well as re-evaluating the list of hazardous work, ending child labour by 2025, which is an SDG goal, will not be possible. A recent roundtable by Prothom Alo has come up with these suggestions.
It is most unfortunate that despite having various policies on eliminating child labour from the country, the progress we have made in reality is very little. According to BBS, between 2003 and 2013, 15 lakh children were rescued from child labour across the country. But still, 17 lakh children are engaged in child labour, among them 12 lakh are involved in hazardous works. What is most shocking is that the number of children involved in hazardous works have actually gone up, according to a child rights organisation. Although the Labour Act 2013 (amended) has fixed the minimum age for admission to work at 14 years and in case of hazardous work, the age for admission to work is 18, this has hardly been followed. The situation is particularly bad for the child domestic workers whose rights are often violated by their employers. Although the policy formulated to protect the rights of domestic workers specified that no children under 12 years of age can be employed as domestic workers, and that child domestic workers cannot be engaged in heavy and dangerous work, in reality, none of these provisions are implemented.
Implementing the existing laws are a must to eliminate child labour from our society. To do so, the government must play a proactive role. Also, we need to abide by the international conventions of which we are a signatory country. In addition, we should immediately ratify the ILO convention 138 which has specific directions in terms of determining the minimum age for work. Only through coordinated efforts and proper workplans, can we completely eradicate child labour from society.