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Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF)

A Nationwide Movement for Rights of the Child in Bangladesh

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Workshop at Rajshahi

The 3rd divisional capacity building workshop for Divisional Child labour Welfare Council  held on 23rd October 2016 at the Hotel Dalas International, Rajshashi. The workshop was organized by Ministry of Labour and Employment with support from International Labour Organization (ILO) and Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF). The workshop was attended by a total 75 participants including: Upazilla Nirbahi Officers of Rajshashi Division, Labour Inspectors of Rajshashi Divisions, Rajshashi DCLWC members and local media representatives.

It was a day-long workshop started at 09:00 am with the registration of the participants. The program was divided into two parts i.e.: inaugural session and the working session.

Inaugural Session:

In the inaugural session, Mr. Md. Mujibul Haque, State Minister, Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) was present as chief guest while Mr. Sayed Ahmed, (Additional Secretary) IG, DIFE, Mr. Khondaker Mostan Hossain, Joint Secretary, MoLE, Mr. Sayed Ahmed, IG, DIFE, Mr. Mohammad Munir Hossain, Divisional Commissioner (addl), Rajshashi, Kazi Ashrafuddin, Deputy Commissioner, Rajshashi, Md. Abdus Salam, Superintend of Police, Rajshashi and Mr. Emranul Haque Chowdhury, Chairperson, Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) were present as special guest. Here it is mentionable that Mr. Fazle Hossain Badsha,MP, Rajshashi-2 and Mr. Md. Abdul Hannan, Divisional Commissioner, Rajshashi supposed to present at the workshop as special guest but they didn’t attend due to unavoidable circumstances.

Inaugural session was moderated by Syeda Munira Sultana, National Project Coordinator, ILO Bangladesh Country Office, who firstly announced the name of guests present in the stage and then requested all the participants to introduce themselves.

Welcome Speech

Emranul Haque Chowdhury, Chairperson, BSAF

Mr. Emranul Haque Chowdhury, Chairperson, BSAF delivered the welcome speech. He thanked Mr. Md. Mujibul Haque, State Minister, MoLE for his active role in the capacity building workshops. He expects that Rajshashi divisional child labour welfare council will set a target to reduce child labour in Rajshashi. He also argues, if the Divisional Commissioner takes the lead and SP and DC work together accordingly Rajshashi division will be pioneer.

Speech by the Special Guests

Md. Abdus Salam, Superintend of Police, Rajshashi

Mr. Md. Abdus Salam, Superintend of Police, Rajshashi thanked MoLe, ILO and BSAF for organizing such workshop in Rajshashi. He also expressed his gratitude for giving him the opportunity to articulate the role of Bangladesh Police in this regards.

Mr. Md. Abdus Salam said, police force in Rajshashi is aware about child labour related laws. We are always concerned about child labour exploitation. We are also sensible in regards to children in conflict with law. But all the relevant sectors have to be aware in regards to child labour.

Kazi Ashrafuddin, Deputy Commissioner, Rajshashi

Mr. Kazi Ashrafuddin, Deputy Commissioner, Rajshashi welcomed all to Rajshashi city. He expect capacity building workshop on divisional child labour welfare council will be very much effective and work together to implement vision 2021 under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Khondaker Mostan Hossain, Joint Secretary and Child Labour Focal Point, MoLE

Mr. Khondaker Mostan Hossain in his speech said, Child labour is reducing gradually. Recent BBS statistics shows that 17 million children are in workforce.  Bangladesh has a substantial number of laws that defend child labour such as Labour Law 2006, National Child Labour Elimination Policy 2010, and National Plan of Action etc. MoLE has been organizing workshops with the financial support from ILO and technical support from BSAF to capacitate divisional child labour welfare council. Mr. Khondaker Mostan Hossain also put his deep gratitude to Mr. Md. Mujibul Haque, State Minister, MoLE for attending all the workshops. He said, Minister could give directions staying at Dhaka but he is moving with us to see the progress of the DCLWC by his own.

Finally he said, Bangladesh Gov. is working for the elimination of hazardous child labour by 2021. If the DCLWC around Bangladesh play active role, we will able to achieve the goal within deadline.

 Mohammad Munir Hossain, Additional Divisional Commissioner, Rajshashi

Mr. Mohammad Munir Hossain, Additional Divisional Commissioner, Rajshashi said, he has been working for three years in Rajshashi. He observed, in Rajshashi child labour is prevalent in transport sector, restaurants, wielding workshops, domestic works and many other sectors. Poverty is the main reason of child labour in Rajshashi.

Finally he expects Rajshashi division will be on top in the progress marker of child labour elimination from Bangladesh.

 Sayed Ahmed, Inspector General, Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments  

Mr. Sayed Ahmed, IG, DIFE said, Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments as a Directorate under the Ministry of labour and Employment has started its journey since 2years and 8months  back and many people still don’t know about it. Before Rana Plaza accident, DIFE was a small department (inspection Department). DIFE’s working jurisdiction is all over Bangladesh but DIFE set its priority on three industrial areas includes Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayangonj.

Mr. Sayed Ahmed said, Recently Bangladesh government has signed SDGs and set target to eliminate hazardous child labour by 2021 and all kind of child labour by 2025. He expects government will be able to eliminate child labour from 38 categories of hazardous work. He finally looked forward to the vigorous participation of the participants in finding out the challenges in regards to elimination of HCL in Rajshashi.

Speech by the Chief Guest

Md. Mujibul Haque Chunnu, MP, Honorable State Minister, MoLE

Minister in speech praised BSAF by saying ‘he got inspired to work for disadvantaged child labour by BSAF’s work’. Then he elaborated the stand of Bangladesh Government in regards to Child labour elimination in Bangladesh. He said, ‘the government of Bangladesh is aware of the problem of child labour. It has so far ratified 33 Conventions related to labour issues including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the ILO Convention on the immediate Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) as well as has formulated various plans, policies and laws at different times’.

Then he said, ‘Bangladesh government has recently approved domestic worker protection and welfare policy that prohibit employing child labour in domestic work below 14 years. We have 38 categories of hazardous job list for children. According to Labour Law children above 14 can be engaged in light work only and hazardous job is prohibited for children aged below 18.

Then he said, child labour is sporadically prevalent in everywhere. Child labour in traditional sectors like agriculture and many informal sectors are difficult to abolish. We have demand of labour in agriculture sector. The scarcity of labour is seen in harvesting season. It is observed that attendances in schools reduced in harvesting season because children go to field for working.  In spite of that, child labour in Bangladesh has reduced almost 50% in recent years. So it is also possible to eliminate all kind of child labour from Bangladesh.

Regarding child domestic labour he said, ‘we have plan to turn Domestic Workers Protection and Welafere policy into law. I have talked to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accordingly and she instructed me to proceed’. The he said, elimination of hazardous child labour needs only our good motivation. We have to be committed that we will not employ and exploit any child labour. We have to start this from our home.

Regarding Rajshashi Divisional Committee he said, ‘if Rajshashi divisional committee locates 2-3 sectors where hazardous child labour is prevalent and needs immediate intervention then we will allocate budget for those sectors accordingly’. Finally, State Minister requested Rajshashi people to be sympathetic on child domestic workers. He expects child labour will eliminated from Bangladesh with the support of DCLWC with a concrete plan.

 

Working Session:

The working session started with a Power Point presentation by Mr. Mostan Hossain. He designed his presentation based on remarkable achievements of the govt. over the last couple of years in regard to eliminating child labour. His presentation covered the following areas:

  1. Legislations and Policies
  2. International Commitment
  3. Strategic areas to eliminate HCL and WFCL
  4. Formation of Child Labour Council at national level and other tiers
  5. Technical Assistance from ILO
  6. Contribution of NGO, INGO and Social Partners
  7. Institutional Capacity Building
  8. SDG Commitment and way Forward

Mr. Mostan Hossain said, all kind of child labour is hazardous for children. We want to see children will perform no job expect education. On the basis of the socio-economic condition of Bangladesh we have declared 38 categories of works hazardous for children so that we can work on priority basis. These 38 categories is not final document. Government will add/deduct from this list with the demand of time.

After the presentation of Mr. Mostan Hossain, one of the facilitators of the workshop, Mr. AKM Masud Ali Khan clarifies the definition and age of child labour according to NCLEP and BBS. He pointed out that working children and child labour is not same. Number of children engaged in different works is more than the number of child labour.  He pointed out that Bangladesh govt. has ratified ILO C182 but not the ILO C138 and C185. However, according to labour law amended in 2013, children could not be appointed in any job before 14 years of age. He analyzed the objectives of the NCLEP 2010.

After the presentation and explanations by Mr. AKM Masud Ali Khan, another facilitator Mr. Abdulla Al Mamun took the floor to conduct group activity by the participants. He provided two types (Green and Pink) of beep card to each working group table and asked to write the strengths that are prevailing in order to activate committees at Rajshashi Division in the green card, and weakness/challenges that the committee may face while working in the pink card.

After discussion, following facts were identified about the strengths and weaknesses of Rajshashi Division:

Strength:

  • Less industrial area that’s why concentration of child labour is not that much broad
  • Administration is very much active and helpful in regards to right based approach

 Weakness:

  • Absence of vibrant civil society
  • Low literacy rate
  • Child marriage prone area
  • Char area
  • Migration of people from urban to rural due to river erosion
  • Availability of drugs due to boarder area

After identifying the strength and weakness in Rajshashi division Mr Mamun another two types of beep card to sort out the list of hazardous work performed by children in Rajshashi division and measures should take to enhance the capacity of Rajshashi DCLWC.

Hazardous work performed by children in Rajshashi division

  • Tempu and Bus/truck helper
  • Brick field labour
  • Rice mill labour
  • Drag carrier
  • Prostitution (WFCL)

Initiatives should be taken to Capacitate Rajshashi DCLWC

  • Go-NGO coordination is needed
  • Proper monitoring of the works of the committee by the Ministry

Closing session:

At the concluding session Mr. Mostan Hossain gave vote of thanks through his brief speech. The key recommendations were discussed in the committee meeting.

Key recommendations by the participants:

  • Strong role of civil society is highly recommended
  • Police force have to play strong role in regards to the problem like use of children in drug carrying
  • Drug rehabilitation center and shelter home for children in each districts of Rajshashi division is a cry need
  • UNOs have to play the central role by conducting mobile court against those who exploits child labour
  • Social awareness is necessary about labour laws.
  • Government’s social safety net program in Char people and for internally displaced people should be increased.

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