Humanity has taken a back seat in our lives as is clear once again from Aduri’s case. Aduri, an eleven-year-old-girl was found in the dumpster in the city’s Baridhara DOHS area with marks of torture on her body, hardly able to move or talk. When her employer Nadi was arrested, she denied knowing anything about Aduri’s whereabouts as she ran away from their residence a few months back. However, on October 1, Nadi finally gave a confessional statement after which she was sent to jail.
This is not the first of such cases in the city; while Aduri has been saved, possibly by sheer luck, many have lost their lives due to torture and maltreatment in the hands of their employers. Several households prefer to keep children as helps because of their low demands and even lower wages. They are also good companions to children and can be used for small tasks that involve looking after a child who is probably not much younger than the help him/herself.
According to Research Initiative for Social Equity (RISE) Society, in an article titled A Glimpse of Child Domestic Workers in Bangladesh, around 7.4 million children are economically active of which, around 400,000 child domestic workers are aged between 6-17 years in Bangladesh. Obviously, these children receive no education, sometimes only begetting shelter and food in return for the services they provide.
The study also revealed that around 80% of all domestic workers are girls who are forced to work under such circumstances because of large families, ill or elderly parents, and responsibility to contribute to their families. As such, their mental growth ceases as does their physical growth in cases where they do not even receive the required nutritional food.
To say that these girls are most prone to sexual abuse would be a run-in-the-mill statement and one even more difficult to decipher because of the fact that such children remain confined within the four walls of their employer’s home, which makes it difficult to ensure any form of protection or security for them.
Even though the government has formulated the National Child Labour Elimination policy 2010 (NCLEP) and National Children’s Policy (NCP) to promote and protect children’s rights, little has been achieved thus far.
Child labour remains one of the most sweeping problems in the country that takes Bangladesh further away from eradicating poverty and remains one of the main reasons for lack of education amongst the masses.
Is there a solution then, to this crisis? Probably not, at least not at the moment, since poverty cannot be eliminated in a day. As such, child labour will continue to remain a constant variable simply because these children have the bulky burden to contribute to their family’s well-being. But what we can ensure is some sort of skill development for such children so that they have a means of earning their living, which does not involve working in households or begging in streets, and giving up on their education altogether.
Or, if we absolutely must hire children to work in our homes, then it is of utmost necessity to treat them well, to provide them with the love and care they deserve, to feed them and clothe them, and to treat them like we do our own children. They too have the right to some form of entertainment, to walks in the park and to breathe in the fresh air; simple things that other children their age take for granted.
RISE Society recognises the need for children to earn a living and contribute to their families. But they also say that “Until we can ensure enough funds to facilitate what is right, we have to manage a system which ensures safety and a scope for development for the child.”
This could have happened in your home, or in your neighbour’s; let’s not pretend anymore. Here’s hoping that the educated and privileged classes will take more responsibility for their actions, and that cases like Aduri’s will become extinct. Here’s also hoping that digital Bangladesh will actually make a difference in all our lives, instead of a handful in society, and will enhance a positive Bangladesh sooner rather than later.
Let’s teach ourselves and those around us to be more compassionate, and first and foremost, let’s learn to be humans.