`We don’t employ Child Labour’ or `It is Child Labour Free Factory’ or `Children are not allowed to work here’– You will see many different types of sentences in same meaning at the entries of any industrial establishments or factory. It aligned with our great (!) programme `Stop Child Labour’.
Thousands of children are eliminated from RMG factories as a compliance were set on child labour as per Harkins Bill implemented in Bangladesh in 1995. ILO Convention 182 stated that Child labour, as the statistics clearly demonstrate, is a problem of immense global proportions. Following its comprehensive research into the issue, the ILO concluded that it was necessary to strengthen existing Conventions on child labour. Convention No. 182 helped to focus the international spotlight on the urgency of action to eliminate as a priority, Worst forms of child labour without losing the long-term goal of the effective elimination of all child labour. And according to ILO Convention No. 138 Basic minimum ages has been set out and it is in developing countries 14 years and 18 years for hazardous work.
The principle is great indeed! But how great these are in the real world! According to a study done by Safe the Children UK, in 2007 a total of 1,532 children were sent to jails in Bangladesh. Of them 617 boys and 24 girls were detained under the Penal Code, 136 boys and 11 girls under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 95 boys and two girls under the Special Powers Act, 51 boys under the Arms Act, 98 boys and four girls under the Narcotics Control Act, 43 boys and one girl under the Speedy Trial Act, 135 boys and 110 girls under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, 21 boys under the Foreigners Act, and 149 boys and 35 girls were sent to jails under other laws.
A story published in the Daily Ittefaq, dated 06 October 2009 described that Samiul (12) works 12 hours in each day at an automobile factory to feed her sick mother and sister. The boy wants to go school, but he doesn’t; if he does, then his mother and sister will go in bed with empty mouth. UNICEF reports says, 67 lac 84 thousands child labour exists in Bangladesh, of them 94 percent engages in informal sector whose 70 percent works in hazardous and worsen enviroment.
Another report of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) points out that about 4.2 lakh children are currently working as domestic helps in the country while about 65 percent of the workers get wages below Tk 500 and at least 217 domestic helps were killed between 2001 and 2008. Besides, 97 were injured, 40 were raped and 23 went missing during the period.
In the recent time, through the newspaper we are informed that children are used as carrier of narcotics like Yaba. A story published in national dailies where an arrested children said, `we are very poor, so bound to work such illegal works for only sack of livelihood.’ We know well about Tokai (Rag Picker and Street Children of Dhaka) who are sometimes used as tools (for throwing bomb) to spoils public meetings!
We have eliminated child labour from formal sector, so they engages in informal sector where have not any legal binding like rules, regulations or laws for their work. We the right activists demand the child policy, labour laws in informal sector and education for these children. But no way to eliminate them from work! Without realising the root causes of child labour, rights never be realised in real ground; And the root causes are poverty and income inequality which should be eliminated first!
We, the people, particularly social activists and social workers acts for these children in different ways! We have expended thousands of crore for non-formal education and stipend for girls child. But without participation of local people, all initiatives seems to fail in the practice level.
We have a long time history of practices volunteerism. Volunteerism occurs from heart and it works effectively to uproot the real causes! Many of us realised that the volunteerism is hardly found in the recent days due to institutionalisation of social works. Definition of volunteerism has been changed and now it is a lucrative profession now a days! Time is changing, so we must change as per demand of time! Great! We have changed before the time!
Across a Occean of silence! against institutionalisation of social work, a few youths inherit the tradition of Bangladesh and burning some lights for these distressed children through practicing historical and traditional volunteerism. They works from hearts, not as a profession! So, it works!
I saw one day in 2002 that one of my younger friend is trying to provide education to a few children of Payarabugh Slum. But the children including their parent do not show interest in getting education. So, we tried to understand their minds and heart. And we prepared a plan to implement a integrated family development programme. Under this programme, with all our limitations, we gave financial supports to the parent of these children to start a small shop or buy a sewing machine and advises them to send their children at school. We also began to ask local communities to provide food these children in their respective family festival to make attractive the school to the children. increasing the number of student in the school, we felt a crucial financial difficulties to continue the school programme. So, we made a plan to manage financial supports from local elites by child sponsorship in name of Swapno Mother Manush Hobo Campaign and we got a small supports from local communities at very beginning! Continueing the campigan, we got an inspiring support from local communities and media; The school is running quitely and 142 slum children are getting education and mid-day meal.
In the web, everyday I searched innovative ideas and people who dreams to act fruitfully for the social causes. I found some of them like Bhalobashar Batighar, Meghna Par Dhibor Bidya Niketon and Jago Foundation. Inspiration came from these initiative to make a catalog of volunteerism in Bangladesh to inspire more youths to engage them in social work as a responsible amateur’s.
To establish the rights of disadvantageous children, these volunteer should unite to act together; that’s why this open discussion article has been written. Dear Friends, please take in part of discussion and inform your ideas to the world. Hope, together we can make a better planet!
শিশুশ্রমের মূল কারণ দারিদ্র্য , The Daily Ittefaq, 12 April 2010