Due to the pandemic, poor families have plunged deeper into poverty and have been forced to either abandon their children or send them to work
Thousands of children in Bangladesh work full-time or part-time, and most of them work in hazardous environments.
Many rural parents engage their children in farming activities while some send them off to cities to work.
In almost every case, the child is forced to take up the work because of poverty.
Children working in factories or garages work in hazardous environments which expose them to severe health risks.
There are many laws regarding child labour, however, due lack of proper implementation, none of them can be virtually followed in Bangladesh.
In 2006, the government passed a law to make the minimum legal age for employment as 14 years.
Sadly, the law could not be implemented as a huge number of children (including those below the age of 14) are employed in the informal sector.
More and more people are being pushed into poverty because of the on-going pandemic. The situation has made children the worst sufferers as families have been rendered helpless amid the crisis.
Thousands of children are employed as house helps in cities and urban areas, while many others work as daily wage-earners in factories and other arrangements.
When economic activities were halted, these children were rendered jobless, with no money to buy food.
As a result, they were seen begging on the streets and rushing to every place where aid was being distributed and few others were also engaging in petty crimes.
Many families suspended their minor house-helps and sent them back to the villages without any pay. Those who decided to keep them, loaded these children with additional work including mopping floors and doing laundry.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the economic and social crisis will hit children particularly hard.
An estimated 42-66 million children across the world could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis this year, adding to the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty in 2019.
Today is World Day against Child Labour (June 12) and this year, it focuses on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on child labour.
In addition to the Labour law provision, there are many other laws relating to the employment of children in different environments.
The Employment of Children Act 1938, The Factories Act 1965, and Shops and Establishment Act 1965 all have various provisions relating to the employment of those below the age of 18 years.
However, none of these laws is being complied with due to the deepening poverty that forces children to take up work so that they can support their families.
Due to the pandemic, poor families have plunged deeper into poverty and have been forced to either abandon their children or send them to work.
Abandoning them is the main reason why sex-slavery, trafficking and other forms of forced labour and torture on children are on the rise in recent days.
Since the government is working on bringing the poor under social safety schemes, they should also focus on protecting these children.
ILO's International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour and Forced Labour (IPEC+ Flagship Programme) has developed business continuity plans to mitigate risks and repurpose its strategy and it is seeking to allocate additional funding to support efforts to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.
The IPEC+ came up with short, medium and long-term responses to the impact of Covid-19 on child labour and forced labour from the initial phase of lockdown until the progressive return to work.
It designed the short-term targeted responses to focus on reducing vulnerabilities, awareness-raising, increasing coordination and information exchange among partners to act quickly with innovative solutions.
In the medium-term responses, once the crisis stabilises, IPEC+ suggests applying protective measures like researching to detect new and emerging patterns of child labour, and the long-term approach will focus on structural issues in line with international labour standards for a long-lasting and sustainable response to the crisis.