Childhood Lost: Trading School for the Brick Fields
Tarina's* childhood consists of working in the brick fields to support her family. She is 12 years old.
She lives with her parents and seven siblings. Every morning, she gets up between 7am to 8am for breakfast before heading to work. Her next meal comes at night. “We do not have money for lunch,” she says.
Each day, she earns 50 to 60 taka (S$0.80 to S$1) by breaking bricks. “If I stop breaking bricks, how will [my family] pay off our loans?” she says. “I get very tired after breaking the bricks. My fingers hurt.”
Tarina is one of 1.3 million Bangladeshi children aged 5 – 14 trapped in the worst forms of child labour (US Department of Labour, 2017).
Many of these child labourers work up to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions within factories in the manufacturing sector producing garments, bricks and even dried fish. They often carry heavy loads, use hazardous machinery, and handle chemicals without protective equipment.
19.9% of children are primary school dropouts and 31.5% are secondary school dropouts (WV Bangladesh phase evaluation report, 2015). Girl labourers face added risk of becoming child brides and teenage mothers, which almost nearly ruins their chances of breaking out of the poverty cycle.
*name changed to protect her identity