State Minister for Labour and Employment Md Mujibul Haque said child labour cannot be completely uprooted from society, but can be brought down to minimal levels
State Minister for Labour and Employment Md Mujibul Haque has said the government is working on making amendments to legislation concerning child labour laws and laws protecting domestic workers.
He was speaking as the chief guest at a discussion, Ratify ILO C138 and C139: Eliminate WFCL, organized by the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) on Tuesday.
ILO Convention 138 is the Minimum Age Convention 1973. The main objective of the convention is the elimination of child labour and protection of children by providing minimum age for admission to employment or work.
ILO Convention 189 works towards protecting the rights of domestic workers by ensuring decent working conditions.
The state minister said child labour cannot be completely uprooted from society, but can be brought down to minimal levels. He said that laws alone will not be sufficient to curb abuse and torture; people need to be made aware of such cruelty, and be held to a higher sense of duties and responsibilities.
Speaking at the discussion as a guest of honour, Md Israfil Alam, MP, said extreme poverty is a major reason for child labour. Currently, around 10% of Bangladesh’s population lives below the poverty line. This has also made it difficult to lessen the dropout rate (4-5%) of children living below the poverty line.
The lawmaker was of the opinion that only ratification of the acts would not lead to improvements; the proper implementation of these acts and laws is needed for actual results.
During the keynote speech, Dr Mohammad Nazuzzaman Bhuian, a professor with the Department of Law at Dhaka University, presented the findings of a survey. He pointed out that the National Child Labour Survey of 2013 estimated 3.45 million working children aged 5-17, of whom 1.70 million were between the ages of 5 and 11.
He raised the point that the government is aware of this issue, and that the laws are being implemented but need to be ratified in order to be more effective.
The government has so far ratified 33 conventions related to labour issues. The issue has also been addressed in various plans and policies and laws at different times including the Children Act, 2013, the Labour Act, 2006, the National Child Labour Elimination Policy (CLEP) 2010. To implement this policy, a five-year National Plan of Action was adopted in April 2013.
International Labour Organization Country Director Tuomo Poutiainen and BSAF Director Abdus Shahid Mahmood spoke on the occasion, while BSAF Chairperson Emranul Huq Chowdhury presided over the discussion.