© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Naser Siddique
Rasel goes to a UNICEF school in the morning and chips bricks for four hours in the afternoons, Dhaka division.
Poverty causes families to send children to work, often in hazardous and low-wage jobs, such as brick-chipping, construction and waste-picking. Children are paid less than adults, with many working up to twelve hours a day. Full-time work frequently prevents children from attending school, contributing to drop-out rates.
According to the Labour Law of Bangladesh 2006, the minimum legal age for employment is 14. However, as 93 per cent of child labourers work in the informal sector – in small factories and workshops, on the street, in home-based businesses and domestic employment – the enforcement of labour laws is virtually impossible.
Dangers and risks
Long hours, low or no wages, poor food, isolation and hazards in the working environment can severely affect children’s physical and mental health. Child labourers are also vulnerable to other abuses such as racial discrimination, mistreatment and sexual abuse. Some work, such as domestic labour, is commonly regarded as an acceptable employment option for children, even though it too poses considerable risks.
Camel jockeys and trafficking
Although trafficking is usually an issue for older children, small boys from Bangladesh have been trafficked to the Middle East to work as camel racing jockeys. These children are often deliberately starved to prevent weight gain and can be subject to sexual and physical abuse. In 2005 the United Arab Emirates banned children (under 18) from working as camel jockeys.
Read how UNICEF is helping educate working children and repatriate children trafficked to the UAE.