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Survey: Infected or not, children’s lives dangerously disrupted by Covid-19

  • Published at 08:38 am July 21st, 2020
aid to poor-food -poverty-mehedi hasan dt
File photo: Children receive food aid in Dhaka during coronavirus pandemic Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The crisis may push millions more children into child labour, putting their lives at risk, say ILO and Unicef

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people adversely of all ages and professions globally in various ways and threatened the livelihood of millions.

A survey report, conducted amid the pandemic by non-government organization Action for Social Development (ASD), has revealed that 86.6% child labourers in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, are financially affected.

The survey reached 240 children involved in different professions in the megacity and found that one-fourth of them have already lost their jobs.

Among those, 36.6% of children told that they were forced to be out of their work.

Some of the children who appeared in the survey said their parents have also lost jobs and already went home.

The survey, conducted in the first week of July, revealed that among 240 children, 46 have gone home to their village after losing their jobs.

The rest 194 children stayed in Dhaka and among them 49.5% children have changed their professions and many of them got involved in begging in Dhaka, which is already visible on roads in the city, the survey said.

Besides changes in job conditions, children’s income has also been reduced during the pandemic.

Among the children who participated in the survey, 57.2% said their income of Tk1,000 to Tk3,000 monthly, has reduced by 47.7% for the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 21.6% children, who earned Tk3,000 to Tk4,000 last month, are making 9.8% less than that.

However, 30.9% child labourers said their families depend on their income and now all of these populations have been affected.

All of the children, who participated in the survey by ASD, informed that they heard about the coronavirus pandemic but 22.8% said they do not use face masks.

Meanwhile, 78.9% of working children said they wash their hands when they return home from work and 20% said they take shower.

Speaking about any aid government or private organizations, 32% children said they got no assistance during this pandemic.

However, the positive news of the survey is that no family members of the children got infected with the novel coronavirus.

Various crises

ASD Executive Director Jamil H Chowdhury said the Covid-19 pandemic has left the children in various crises.

He said that children of low-income families may drop out from schools, and many of them will get involved in labour markets to afford the needs of their families, he said, adding that some of them will directly go into begging.

According to International Labour Organization and Unicef, the Covid-19 crisis may push millions more children into child labour putting their lives at risk which could lead to the first rise in child labour after 20 years of progress.

A joint publication of the two bodies, titled “Covid-19 and child labour: A time of crisis, a time to act,” had revealed that child labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk because of the pandemic.

Talking about girls specifically, Jamil said they will be married off in their early ages and many children will face torture at home.

He went on saying that many private schools have been shut for ever, and children of low-income families will enter the labour market for this pandemic.

The ASD executive director also feared that the country may go backwards in the education sector as many children will drop out from schools for their families’ financial crises and it may be an obstacle in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tomoo Hozumi, the Unicef representative in Bangladesh, said the Covid-19 pandemic has made a particularly negative impact on the lives, hopes and future of the most vulnerable children.

"Closure of schools and reduction of family income expose many children to the risk of child labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Studies have shown that the longer children are out of school, the less likely they are to return.

“We need to prioritize education and the protection of children now and throughout the duration of the pandemic,” said Hozumi.

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