52,000 barbers work in Dhaka, while there are 3 lakh beauty parlour workers in the country
Joydev Shill runs a small barber's "Jaoydev Salon" in the East Rampura area of the capital. He runs the shop alone as he has no employee.
Joydev lives in a house, that costs him Tk6,000 per month, with his elderly mother, wife and three children. He is the only bread earner of the family.
His shop has been closed since March after the government declared a nationwide shutdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.
He said Eid is the time when his shop sees a spike in customers which boosts his income. But this year the situation is completely different.
On Tuesday, Joydev partly opened his shop to see if anyone needed a haircut amid the pandemic. But nobody turned up.
"I live hand to mouth. But for the last three months, I have no income. Coronavirus has robbed us of our livelihood. You may understand how I am living in this condition with my family," said Joydev Shill.
"I had some cash money which is already finished. I couldn't pay the rent for my shop. The whole family is living in hunger," he added.
According to Bangladesh Narasundar Kalyan Samity, there are more than 10 lakh barbers in the country. Among them, 52,000 barbers work in Dhaka.
Besides, there are around three lakh beauty parlour workers in the country. Most of them work on wage on a daily basis.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made the life of these workers miserable as they have not got enough relief materials from the government.
Some barbers in Dhaka alleged that the public representative of the city corporations was giving relief materials only to some people in their areas after checking ID cards.
Dipak Kumar Shill, general secretary of Bangladesh Narasundar Kalyan Samity, said they wrote to the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka for relief, but they did not get any help.
"The barbers are like day labourers. So they do not have any savings. No government or private organisation tried to know about our condition. We wanted to help the cosmetics companies but they did not respond. I am urging everybody to help us," said Dipak Kumar Shill.
A barbershop owner of Mogbazar area of the city, on condition of anonymity, said that after the Covid-19 outbreak life became miserable.
He said he needs to give Tk20,000 per month has the rent of the shop. Besides, there are the utility bills. But after March 25, he has not opened the shop for a minute.
He said Eid festival generates a good income for the barbershops. But this year he could not make a penny.
Almost all the barbers of Dhaka have been closed. Though some tried to open their shop amid the lockdown, there were no customers.
Health experts of the country said barbers could be hot spots for Covid-19 infection because it is not possible to maintain social distancing while cutting one's hair. Barbers use the same scissors for all the customers, which is also a risk.
People are avoiding barber's following directives of health experts.
The barbers are not getting any help from the stimulus package declared by the prime minister.
Nitya Gopal, a barber from the Mouchak area of the city, said his village home is in Kushtia. His permanent address in national identity card is his village. As a result, he did not get any help from the ward councillor of Mouchak.
"We are not having any help, neither from the government nor from any private organisation," he added.
Nasima Begum, chairman of National Human Rights Commissions, said, "The barbers live like the day labourers. They live from hand to mouth. Their life and livelihood have been devastated because of coronavirus."
"Ministry of social welfare, ministry of relief and disaster management and the city corporations should take necessary steps to help the barbers amid the pandemic. Besides, wealthy people should also come forward to help them," she added.