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Dhaka Tribune

Study: Child workers in a state of being slave

Update : 07 Apr 2016, 03:09 AM
Child domestic workers in Bangladesh work for an average of 17 hours a day without weekly holidays, and even so over half of them face psychical torture under their employers.
A nationwide study of 1,230 child domestic workers revealed that 53.7 percent of them have faced physical punishment and 17.6 percent of them have suffered sexual harassment in the hands of their employers. Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) published the report, ‘Hidden Slavery: Child Domestic Workers’ at a programme at the National Press club yesterday. The study was conducted on 1,230 child domestic workers in all seven divisions of the country over the last seven months starting from October 2015. Nine out of ten children working as domestic helps told researchers they had to start working from 7am and continue till 11-12pm while for the rest, work started at 5am. The government’s National Child Labour Survey in 2013 found that there were 3.45 million working children in Bangladesh aged between 5-17 years and of them almost 14% were domestic workers. The BSAF study said among child domestic workers, 87.7 percent were girls whose average age was 13.5 years. Although nine out of ten children said they were paid a salary but their average monthly pay was Tk1,267. The rest of the children said they got nothing for their work. About 40% of the children do not even have a suitable place to sleep. Nearly two out of ten said they had to sleep on the kitchen floor while the others slept in the living room. BSAF also combed through reports in the media from 2013 to present time and found that a total of 16 children were murdered, 16 raped, 56 tortured and 21 committed suicide at their workplace. BSAF Chairperson Emranul Huq Chowdhury said it was high time the government focus on this issue and take immediate action towards poverty eradication and prohibit abusive practices towards child domestic workers through comprehensive law. “Although, a huge number of children are working in this sector but the government not include the job as a part of hazardous one even after repeated request,” says Sabira Sultana, National Advocacy Coordinator for World Vision. Prof Dr Md Rezaul Karim of Jagannath University presented the summary of the report. AAMS Arefin Siddique, vice chancellor of Dhaka University was present as the chief guest while BSAF chairperson Emranul Huq Chowdhury chaired the event.
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