Child labor remains a pressing issue in many parts of the world, with Bangladesh being no exception. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of child labor in Bangladesh, drawing from various sources including articles from Time and World Vision, as well as a detailed 2017 report on wage levels and working conditions in the garment industry in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Current State of Child Labor in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, child labor is prevalent in various sectors, including the garment and glass industries. Children, often as young as 12, are forced into full-time work to support their families due to economic necessity. For instance, a 15-year-old girl named Bithi works in a garment factory in Dhaka, sewing a minimum of 480 pairs of pants a day for about $1 in wages. Similarly, a 12-year-old boy named Rafi works in a local glass factory after his school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Causes of Child Labor
Poverty and economic necessity are the primary drivers of child labor in Bangladesh. Low wages and long working hours for adult workers often force families to rely on their children’s labor to meet basic needs. The 2017 report found that the majority of garment workers in Bangladesh, who are mostly female migrants, live in substandard conditions and earn wages that are insufficient to cover their families’ basic needs, including housing, food, and education.
The Impact of Child Labor
Child labor has significant impacts on children’s education and future economic prospects. Many children engaged in labor are unable to attend school, thereby limiting their future opportunities. The psychological impact of child labor is also substantial, with children often experiencing stress, depression, and anxiety due to long working hours, hazardous conditions, and the lack of opportunities for play and social interaction.
Child Labor Laws and Enforcement in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has laws in place to protect children from labor exploitation, such as the Labor Act of 2006, which prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14. However, enforcement of these laws can be challenging due to factors such as lack of resources, corruption, and the informal nature of much of the work children do.
The Role of International Trade Agreements
International trade agreements that include labor standards provisions can impact child labor. For example, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in developing countries, includes requirements for beneficiary countries to take steps towards eliminating the worst forms of child labor.
The Response to Child Labor
Various efforts have been made by the Bangladeshi government and international organizations to combat child labor. However, corporations also play a crucial role in either perpetuating or combating child labor. For instance, the 2017 report found that low wages in the export-oriented garment industry contribute to a system that perpetuates child labor.
Case Studies of Successful Interventions
There are numerous examples of successful interventions to combat child labor. For instance, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has implemented programs in various countries that combine education initiatives with social protection measures to help reduce child labor.
Public Awareness and Consumer Responsibility
Public awareness campaigns can play a significant role in combating child labor. These campaigns can inform consumers about the issue and encourage them to buy products that are certified as child labor-free. Consumer pressure can, in turn, encourage companies to ensure their supply chains are free from child labor.
Potential Solutions to Child Labor
Addressing child labor requires a multi-faceted approach. A living wage strategy is crucial to ensure that adult workers can meet their basic needs without relying on their children’s labor. Additionally, education and job skills training can provide children with alternatives to labor and a pathway to a better future.
Child labor in Bangladesh is a complex issue that requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including the government, corporations, and consumers. At Brandex Sourcing, we are committed to ethical sourcing practices and ensuring that our supply chains are free from child labor. We believe in the power of business to effect positive change and are dedicated to providing quality products that consumers can feel good about purchasing.
Join us in our commitment to ethical sourcing. With Brandex Sourcing, you can have peace of mind knowing that our products are made with respect for people and the planet.
You might also be interested in our article about Labor Rights and Working Conditions in Bangladesh’s Apparel Industry.
- Time Article: “Bangladesh Closed Schools for 18 Months—and Now Children Aren’t Returning to the Classroom”
- World Vision Article: “A look at child labor inside a garment factory in Bangladesh”
- 2017 Report: “Branded Childhood – How garment brands contribute to low wages, long working hours, school dropout and child labour in Bangladesh”