The Situation In Bangladesh
COVID-19 has set the stage for the violation of children’s rights.
With a population of nearly 165 million, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Poverty was already widespread throughout rural and urban areas, and COVID-19 opened the door for ruthless people to exploit children in unimaginable ways. Criminals are luring hungry children into forced labour and the commercial sex trade, while human trafficking and child marriage have turned into booming businesses.
Despite a growing economy and the government’s efforts to eliminate child labour in the formal employment sector, the laws and protections don’t go nearly far enough, and do not yet apply to the informal sector, which makes up 85% of the economy and where most child labour occurs.
Children as young as five are forced to sell drugs and perform dangerous work in the production of dried fish, bricks, garments, and leather. In these industries, protections are minimal and the hazards high. Children work long hours and are exposed to toxic chemicals without protective gear. Furthermore, inspections are rare and fines too low to deter violations. According to UNICEF, child labour is certain to spike in tandem with the rise in global poverty, the closing of schools, and the lack of social services.