Reports out of Bangladesh indicate that, despite government claims to the contrary, child labor still continues to be a pressing concern.
The report was the product of the Overseas Development Institute, based in London, England, and it highlights a number of concerns involving a variety of labor practices and conditions in Bangladesh. Most notably, the report found that 15% of children aged 6 to 14 in the city of Dhaka work full time. The report also found instances in which children worked for more than 110 hours a week while earning on average less than $2 per day.
The report runs contrary to government claims that there is no child labor in Bangladesh. The ODI report argues that the government of Bangladesh makes these claims because it is looking in the wrong places and lacks access to areas where the abuses are taking place.
Many of the child labor practices the report uncovered were located at clandestine underground garment factories. These factories are sub-contracted out to produce products by the licensed distributer. The government pays much closer attention to these exporting firms, and, to its credit, has done an impressive job making progress on the issue of child labor.
The government of Bangladesh has exceeded many goals set for it by the Millennium Development Goals initiative. Despite this progress, however, the government is still lagging behind on its new Sustainable Development goals.
One of the biggest issues with child labor is the cycle that it creates due to the detrimental effect that it has on education. Once children begin working long hours they no longer have the energy to excel at school. Because of this their job options are limited and they wind up working in the garment industry their entire lives.
There have been many programs and initiatives launched by both the government as well as various non-profits. Only time will tell if these programs will be able to wipe out the scourge of child labor.