Would child labor be able to eradicate from developing countries?

Publish: 9:49 PM, October 4, 2021 | Update: 9:49:PM, October 4, 2021

Md. Tanjimul Islam
As Bangladesh celebrating its golden jubilee of independence, the picture of socio-economic development can overwhelm any citizen. After a roller coaster ride, today the country has come a long way in education, health, and economy. At the international level, Bangladesh is well-known in many indicators today! All in all, as a Bangladeshi we must be proud! But can we really be proud of the socio-economic and human rights of about 180 million people across the country?

How are the children of the marginalized people when the whole country went to a series of lockdownsduring the pandemic? After about a year and a half just starting to see the face of the school, how can they spend their daily lives in small houses or slum areas? Although they have already engaged themselves in the daily chores of their parents, today they are proving to be a new earning ‘worker’. Nowadays, their labor is always being sold in new housework, brick kilns, factories, hotels, vans, even in drug-gambling halls!

October 7 is a special day of Child Rights Week! This special day is being celebrated all over the country mainly with disadvantaged and working children. According to the amendments to the Bangladesh Labor Act, 2006 and 2013, working children are those between the ages of 12 and 18 who work up to 42 hours a week in light labor or without risk. This labor is permissible. However, child labor is going on all over the country without paying attention to this issue of law!Which is against child protection and child rights! When we rejoice in being promoted to a middle-income country; Is it better to think about the horrors of these children and the future at that very moment?

Apart from the government of Bangladesh, domestic and foreign development agencies continue to work in various ways to prevent child labor, but child labor is not decreasing at all! Gradually we seem to have lost the fight to stop child labor. The new coronavirus epidemic has pushed us far behind. It is estimated that there are 3.2 million child laborers in Bangladesh, of whom 1.3 million are engaged in hazardous work which is detrimental to their health, safety and morals.Those who were supposed to have books and pencils in their childhood, those who were supposed to take this country forward with vigor, are the ones who have become the main artisans of livelihood and have become the struggling soldiers of the needy world! A class of greedy vested interests took advantage of the poverty of these children and their families and engaged them in various activities for a nominal fee. Because, the value of their labor is very insignificant in this society just for being young or having children! Although a wide range of programs have been adopted in the international arena to create a better future for children all over the world, the issue of child abuse and child rights violations has not stopped even for a moment! We all witness countless incidents in front of our eyes! The internationally recognized Charter of the Rights of the Child states that (1) non-discrimination, (2) protection of the best interests of the child, (3) responsibility of parents to uphold the rights of the child and (4) respect for the views of children. Its proper application in the current situation is very rare!Interestingly, when the children of the landlord fall asleep under the same roof and wake up from bed at 10 am, another child of the same age of a housemaid, has to get up in the early hours of the morning to concentrate on heavy work as per routine! Even if the regular work is completed successfully, it never gets any additional praise. However, one day, when something exceptional happens, physical and mental torture is combined as a reward! And all this is witnessed by their peers in the house of adorable children! But is the Child Rights Charter only for special children of that elite class?

Child labor not only puts a child or his family at risk but also destroys all his possibilities in the bud! What kind of people are those who strangle the childhood of an innocent child or those who persuade and force! One of the basic human needs is good education (institutional and practical). But in the absence of a conducive environment, he has to play the role of a young man in this country in order to procure another basic need i.e. food! Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 states that states must take immediate and effective action to remove children from high-risk jobs and eliminate all forms of child labor by 2025. And now his real time! Recently, about 24.5 million people in Bangladesh have become poor due to the Covid-19 epidemic. What effect did this have on child labor, is anyone keeping track of it?Do we know how much child labor has increased due to the closure of educational institutions for more than a year? The standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on labor recruitment are basically four-dimensional: freedom of association, the right to bargain, the non-existence of child labor, and a non-discriminatory employment system. These must be adopted as a policy in all countries. But the question arose about its application.Days, months, years go by! Over time, Children’s Day, Child Rights Week, Child Labor Day, and Human Rights Day are celebrated. Many again do a lot of work for the development of children, continue research! Big projects are undertaken! Many are recognized as the country’s best people again! Gets many famous and expensive prizes! But sadly, the rights of the children of the masses are never established! Child labor does not stop!

The issue of child labor and child rights must have moved us a lot! Really! The reality is: child labor will not be reduced, child rights will not be established if children are not included in the social security zone. The state has a wide role in this.Public-private patronage is just as important as the need for a better future, the sincere love of the public for every child! Otherwise, these children will not be proud citizens in the future and will be involved in various misdeeds including begging and prostitution! However, any conscious and well-meaning person will want child labor to be stopped, child rights to be established! We are also looking forward to that day! Maybe that day is very near!

The writer is the coordinator of Advocacy & Social Accountability for World Vision. He can be reached at aronnyok@gmail.com