Choose a Country: BangladeshChild Labor in BangladeshBangladesh is a small Asian. It is bordered by India on three sides and, in the south, by the Bay of Bengal. Though it is in close proximity to India, it is predominantly Muslim, not Hindu.
Bangladesh is also a third-world country. This is mainly because of its large population (130 million), small area (about the size of Wyoming), relatively recent breakaway from Pakistan (Bangladesh was formerly East Pakistan, but in a war for independence, it broke away and became Bangladesh), corrupt government, and a monsoon season that limits economic growth (1/3 of the country floods every year).
Because of its developing, third-world state, child labor abounds in Bangladesh. A 1995-1996 survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics found that approximately 6.6 million children worked as child laborers in Bangladesh (this is approximately 2.6% of the world’s child laborers; it is also 19% of the entire child population in Bangladesh) most in exploitative jobs that prevented them from getting a good education. Of these children, 30,000 worked in jobs classified by UNICEF and the Ministry of Labor and Manpower as “hazardous” (These jobs include shrimp processing, auto repairs, and electrical work). Children, however, can be found working in almost every type of job found in Bangladesh (though most work in the agriculture industry, which employs around 65.4% of the child laborers in Bangladesh).
Most child laborers in Bangladesh work around 48 hours per week. They make around 500 taka per month. This amount is equivalent to about U.S. $8.30 (the current exchange rate is around 60 taka to the dollar).
A large (but unknown) number of children in Bangladesh work as domestic servants, mainly in cities. For example, approximately 300,000 children work as domestic servants in Dhaka (the capital) alone. Also, most domestic servants are estimated to be 11-13 years old. Many of them work 15-18 hours every day.
Trafficking of children also occurs in Bangladesh. Children are smuggled out of the country and sold elsewhere, sometimes into lives of virtual slavery. Girls can be sold to different owners over and over again, while boys are sometimes transported to the Middle East, where they become camel jockeys in races.
As it is with most child labor, the primary cause for it in Bangladesh is poverty. 55 million people are considered below the poverty line in Bangladesh. For many, forcing their children to work is the only way to survive. Education is also hard to get to. Even if a family can afford to feed their children, they may not be able to afford education, which, though free until 5th grade, has the cost of transportation and uniforms.
Progress is being made, however, to eliminate child labor in Bangladesh.
92-93, legislation was passed that banned the import of several items that were made using child labor. These tems included garments made in factories employing child laborers in Bangladesh. This caused garment factory owners to fire most of their child laborers immediately. However, this made a “bad situation even worse” by stranding approximately 45,000 children without a job or income. But collaboration between UNICEF, the garment industry, and other organizations has allowed the industry to gradually replace its child laborers with adults and rehabilitate the children, by putting them in schools. As a result, the Bangladeshi garment industry now employs virtually no child laborers.
The U.S. has also helped the child labor situation in Bangladesh. In March 2000, President Clinton gave Bangladesh $14 million to combat child labor, including $8.6 million to remove children from hazardous jobs, and 1.7 million to stop trafficking of children.
Learn about a child from the Indian Region named Bapi.