Children in hazardous work

Ten-year-old Shohag and his friend work close to open flames in their job. Shohag is like many other children who are employed by foundries in the city’s Demra area. Hundreds of workshops in the area hire underage children for these hazardous tasks. Photo: Anisur Rahman

It is a harsh truth that despite the government amending laws and signing the ILO Convention on worst forms of child labour, thousands of children are engaged in work that are hazardous to their physical and mental well-being and that deprive them of the basic right to education. A government survey has found almost 13 lakh out of a total of 17 lakh child labourers to be doing hazardous work. They are paid a pittance and often end up working in non compliant factories and workshops and as domestic workers placing them at risk of injury, illness, physical and verbal abuse and even death. Moreover, children in city slums are more likely to drop out of primary school and enter into such jobs.

A report in this paper on occasion of Universal Children’s Day yesterday has highlighted these facts and pointed out that child labour, if not addressed, can be the number one factor in holding the nation back from achieving a number of SDG Goals for 2030. This includes universal secondary education, poverty elimination, inclusive growth and human development and decent work for all. Child labour also promotes intergenerational poverty so that the vicious cycle of deprivation perpetuates.

Experts on child labour have suggested several steps to tackle child labour. The national education policy 2010 for example, that makes education compulsory upto grade eight, should be immediately implemented. The National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) 2015, should be made effective as it aims to provide better coverage of the safety net to families in need who are forced to send their children to work in order to survive. In addition international conventions and laws governing child labour, must be enforced so that no child is engaged in work that is hazardous and so that every child has access to education, even those who must work to survive.

Source: The Daily Star.

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