More than a third of the country’s child workers are risking their lives in hazardous jobs, a child labour monitoring organization said on Monday.
The Chittagong branch of the World Day Against Child Labour Observance Committee said that of the 3.4 million working children in Bangladesh, a total of 1.28 million are involved in 38 jobs identified as potentially hazardous.
The alarming figure was revealed during a press conference held at Chittagong Press Club on Monday.
Citing a gazette notification published by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 2013, Nargis Sultana, member secretary of the platform, said 2.4 million children in total do not go to schools.
“We have to chalk out develop plans so that the children can meet their basic necessities and get the opportunities to develop themselves as good and eligible citizens,” she said.
“The existing laws enacted for stopping child labour should be implemented.”
According to the BBS survey, 30% of the working children have never had the opportunity to attend classes.
The families of 28% of the children cannot afford to bear the cost of education, while 20% of the families did not want their children to attend classes.
In Chittagong itself, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment has recorded a total of 511 children under the age of 18 who are involved in four types of hazardous jobs: aluminum, plastic and glass production; and ship-breaking.
Of these, 209 children were found to be below the age of 14.
“The government has already taken initiatives to bring the children out of the hazardous trades and involve them with non-hazardous work,” Abdul Hai Khan, deputy inspector general of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment, said.
World Day Against Child Labour Observance Committee, Chittagong is an umbrella group of over 30 government and non-organizations working for children.
These include Chittagong District Administration, Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment, Bangladesh Shishu Academy, and the District Social Services office.
Monday’s press conference was attended by the convener of the platform, Aftabur Rahman Jafree; Project Manager of World Vision, Robert Kamol Sarker; and eminent women’s rights activist Jesmin Sultana Paru, among others.