The cabinet of Bangladesh has approved the draft Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act 2018 where child labor is totally restricted. The law says that any person who will employ a child will be convicted of 5000 Taka as a penalty. Children aged between 14-18 can be deployed light work. Before the amendment, children aged from 12 were allowed to employ light work.
Shahinur Islam is only 12. At this age, he is supposed to engage with his academic study and playing, but he is engaged in a workshop doing welding work for his subsistence. Skipping the childhood fancy, Maruf Hossain on another hand engages in a risky job.
All those children are at risk during the Covid 19 pandemic situation since they cannot maintain social distance nor even effort the face mask. They are now also facing challenges to do their regular job and to earn proper daily meals.
Maruf Hossain said, My father is jobless at present. So I am working here from 9:00 am to 7:0 pm and earning a weekly wage of 500 Taka only.
Shahinur Islam said, I am from a needy family. So my family forced me to work here.
Raju worked in a tea stall. During the Covid 19 pandemic situation, the tea stall remains closed and his daily income became limited. Now he can effort a single meal in a day.
Raju said, Before the pandemic situation, I had many customers in my tea stall. But now people hardly come here due to their fear of contra virus.
Ruma Khatun also has to come out of her home in search of subsistence like some other people. But she is different since she is only 8. She is the juvenile soldier in the battle of life. During this Covid 19 pandemic situation, she is facing a challenge to arrange a work of a house-maker.
Off-voice: Who is there?
Ruma: It’s me.
Off-voice: What do you want here?
Ruma: Do you have any job for me in your house?
Off-voice: Sorry dear, during this pandemic situation, we don’t have any work for you? Please leave here.
The guardian of those children also had a dream that their children would be the future of this country. But the reality is different than they think. They have nothing to do but to send their children to work to earn a daily subsistence.
Ruma’s mother said, Say, my husband only earns 600 Taka which very minimum for our daily living. Since we need to pay the installment of our loan. We have bound to send them to work.
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic situation, most of the working children and their families are facing ultimate challenges. The experts suggest that lack of proper assistance and guidance, those children can involve in illegal activities.
Saluddin Roni said, At present, we see that many children are jobless. So in some cases, they became street children (Tokai). But any time they can turn to illegal activities or become drug-addicted. This is a matter of disappointment.
Most of the children-workers do not use a face mask. They think that Covid 19 is a disease of rich people not for the poor. Even they cannot understand if any of them is Covid 19 positive. They think is like normal fever and flu.