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Call to address and strengthen child labour laws in informal sector

  • Published at 09:30 pm September 19th, 2018
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Speakers at the round table consultation titled 'Child Labour Situation in Bangladesh: Role of Parliamentary Caucus,' organized by the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) at the IPD Conference Hall, National Parliament Compound, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018 kamrul Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Currently, there is no National Plan of Action (NPA) for excluding children from working at hazardous jobs which is why any major change in this sector is not visible

About 95% of children in Bangladesh are engaged in odd jobs in the informal sector while the laws and policies on child labor exist only on paper with very few being enforced in formal sectors.  

Formulating laws and policies for child protection, implementation, and monitoring of the procedures remain a major drawback in Bangladesh, speakers said at a round table consultation titled “Child Labour Situation in Bangladesh: Role of Parliamentary Caucus,” organized by the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) at the IPD Conference Hall, National Parliament Compound, on Wednesday morning.

Mir Showkat Ali Badsha, MP, also the chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, presided over the program.

A major percentage of children with few opportunities work in informal sectors, bringing very little change to the overall situation for decreasing their numbers, said Nazmuzzman Bhuiyan, Prof of Law at the University of Dhaka, also a key-note speaker of the program.

Currently, there is no National Plan of Action (NPA) for excluding children from working at hazardous jobs which is why any major change in this sector is not visible. The government has formulated a policy for domestic workers but no enforcement or implementation legislationhas yet been promulgated, said Prof Nazmuzzman. 

He said the government has compiled a draft of the Labour Law where the minimum age of a labourer would be 14 instead of 12. It would bring a great change if eradication of child labour can be included in the law. 

Jahirul Islam, executive director of Bangla-German Sampreeti (BGS), said if a decent wage and working environment could be ensured for adult workers, financial problems would not compel them to send their children to work. Besides, monitoring systems needed to be strengthened.  

Ehsanul Hoque program specialist at Child Protection of Terre des Hommes, Netherlands, urged members of parliament to ensure approval of the action plan. 

Nine members of parliament (MPs), who are members of the Parliament Caucus on Child Rights, participated in the program.  

Bangladesh should adopt The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act that includes keeping child labour from any form of risky work, Prof Nazmuzzaman said.

Rangpur MP Advocate Hosne Ara Lutfa Dalia complained social rights activists never seek the help of MPs and local representatives in this regard. 

Gaibandha MP Advocate Umme Kulsum Smrity said: “We have to look for a way so that the actions of government organizations and NGOs can be disseminated to keep in check the number of children joining odd jobs.”

MP Shamsul Alam Dudu said financial hardship is worsening the situation. With the tenure of the current government coming to an end, no new initiatives are possible.