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Bangladesh welcomes government’s child safety initiative

Bangladeshi children are employed as laborers at a brick-breaking factory. (Photo: Supplied)

Bangladeshi people welcomed a government initiative to better protect children by recruiting 6,000 new social workers, bringing the workforce from 3,000 to 9,000.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was speaking at the first-ever "National Conference on Child Protection in Bangladesh," jointly organized by UNICEF and the European Union in the capital Dhaka on September 19.

In a video message, she said, "The aim of the Bangladesh government is to build a professional social services workforce that enhances efficient delivery of child protection services such as Child Helpline 1098, Child Protection Allowances, and community-based outreach services involving volunteers, adolescent children, and community people so that no child is left behind."

According to a recent report by the US Department of Labour, Bangladesh made some moderate advancements in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in 2021.

The report also mentioned that children are forced to perform dangerous tasks in the production of garment and leather goods sectors in Bangladesh.

The report, titled "2022 List of Goods Produced by Child Labour or Forced Labour" shows that by early 2022, Bangladesh has ratified key international conventions concerning child labor.

Md. Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said, "We can assure you that there is no child or forced labour in our member industries."

The US Department of Labour report said other hazardous sectors in which children work include tanneries, shipbreaking and the dried fish industry.

The report said the government has established laws and regulations related to child labour and also removed 5,088 children in vulnerable situations from 23 districts through labour inspections.

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics estimated that there were 1.28 million children working in hazardous sectors before the Covid-19 pandemic, with 260,000 children working in the government's officially listed hazardous sectors.

Prime Minister Hasina's announcement to recruit six thousand more is seen as groundbreaking as a national household survey revealed that 45 million Bangladeshi children are under the age of 15.

A startling 89 percent are subjected to physical and psychological violence at home on a regular basis.

Before the announcement by the government, the Catholic Church was already working to protect children through different programs with the collaboration of World Vision Bangladesh, a global Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization.

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh has been engaged in making awareness programs among parents, teachers, and other staff at various schools and colleges for child protection. - Nikhil Gomes 


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