The formation of the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy, although having given recognition to child domestic workers (CDW) as labour, is yet to include hazardous child labour in the list
The last CDW survey of 2007 states that in Bangladesh, the number of domestic workers stands at 2 million, out of which, 420,000 are children and 83% of them are female. These CDWs have to undertake a series of hazardous tasks, but they are not entitled to any legal rights in Bangladesh.
The immediate formation of the DW Policy 2015 and listing of the tasks in the list of hazardous jobs can ensure their protection. Speakers in a roundtable brought up the issue while in discussion yesterday.
The roundtable was organised at Azimur Rahman Conference Hall of The Daily Star Centre titled “Implementation of domestic workers protection and welfare policy 2015: way forward.” It was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), World Vision, Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) and Shaplaneer.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Md Mujibul Haque was present at the event as chief guest, while Vice-Chairperson of BSAF Iqbal Ahammed was the chair.
Khondaker Mostan Hossain, joint secretary of the; MI Nahil, programme manager of DFAT Australia; and Enamul Huq, ambassador for working children; were also present at the roundtable as special guests.
Abdullah-Al-Mamun of Manusher Jonno Foundation presented the keynote paper at the roundtable, in which he stated that the policy, although a new milestone, had also created complexities.
The policy conditionally allows children aged 12 years to join as domestic workers to do “light work,” but would not give any description as to what actually constitutes “light work,” he said, adding that the policy should be implemented by creating awareness among the public removing such complexities.
“Beside implementating the policy, we also need to think about the elimination of child labour by 2025 as per the targets of our sustainable development goals,” added Mamun.
AS Mahmood, director of BSAF, said the DW Policy 2015 recognised CDW as labour for the first time, but the protection offered still remains elusive if the rule of law is not established, as the CDWs have to work inside homes.
“We will only be able to know about those incidents which are published in the media,” he said, stressing that there may be abuses that go unreported.
By: Mohammad Jamil Khan