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27 Child Laborers Rescued After Boy Is Tortured to Death in Bangladesh

ILO in Asia and the Pacific

On Monday, a nine-year-old boy was tortured to death by coworkers at a textile mill in Rupganj, Bangladesh, according to The New York Times. So far, an assistant administrative officer at Zobeda Textile Mill, where the incident took place, has been arrested.

Read more: Bangladesh gets serious about garment worker safety

Sagar Barman, along with his parents, had been working at the mill for seven months. On Monday afternoon, his father Ratan Barman, found him lying on the floor with his abdomen swollen, unable to speak, and rushed him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigation by the police revealed that Sagar had ventured inside a restricted area near a compressor at the mill. Supervisors at the mill then tortured Sagar and eventually killed him. Ratan has alleged that as many as eight workers were involved in this heinous crime.

Ratan also told the police that factory supervisors and managers would often verbally abuse them, and beat them if they found mistakes in their work.

But after the arrest of a senior officer, the mill was raided, and 27 child laborers were rescued. Authorities suspect that there are still several children employed there.

Read more: College student rescues 111 child laborers in India in covert operation

The mill’s owner and managers have since fled, facing charges of underage employment, according to The Guardian.

Zobeda Textile Mill, one of Bangladesh’s biggest mills, supplies yarn to textile factories that make clothes for Western retailers.

Out of its workers, numbering 3,000, an estimated 10% are below the permissible working age of 14. But in Bangladesh, around 4.9 million children from the ages of 5 to 14 are engaged in industrial and factory work. Instead of spending money to send their children to school, families prefer sending them to work in order to increase the family’s income.

“I thought, as we are poor, it will be helpful to run our family if my son Sagar can do some work in this factory,” Mr. Barman said.

Sagar earned around US $40 per month.

Read more: The child labor lawsuit against Nestle: what you need to know

Last August, a 13-year-old boy was killed in the same way in Khulna, Bangladesh, sparking nationwide protests. Courts subsequently sentenced the accused in that case to death.

While some gains have been made, child labor plagues many countries which suffer from poverty. Child labor often exists in countries vulnerable to natural disasters, and those that lack infrastructure for health care and other income securities.

A 2015 estimate from the International Labor Organization put the number of child laborers between the ages of 5 and 17 at 5.7 million.

This creates a vicious cycle: if children are working in factories, they aren’t going to school and gaining the tools they need to pull themselves out of poverty.

Efforts need to be made to spread the benefits of education among the poor, especially those living below the poverty line. Only then will children stay out of factories and in schools.


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