US Department of Labour says 81.5 per cent of the total working 3.7 million (10.1 per cent) children in Bangladesh are engaged in the worst form of child labour including agriculture and domestic services.
The 11th edition of the annual "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour", a report mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000 that provides information on the efforts of certain US trade beneficiary countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, said recently.
However, the report excluded the country's readymade garments (RMG) industry, the main export revenue earner of the country, from the list of the sectors suspected of producing goods with child labour.
The report suspects Bangladesh's textile, leather and footwear sectors of manufacturing products were using child labour, in violation of international standards, but it does not reveal the extent of child or forced labour used in Bangladesh textile sector.
Some 16.2 per cent children in Bangladesh engaged in manufacturing sectors, most of which are hazardous.
Besides Bangladesh, the report accuses China, Ethiopia and North Korea of using child labour in textile sector, and adds that it does not mean that these countries would attract some import restrictions by the US.
The report states that the information gathered by it can serve as an important tool in global efforts to stop child labour.
It commends the Bangladesh government for making a moderate advance in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by passing the Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act, 2012, which makes labour trafficking a capital offence.
However, Bangladesh still has a long-way to go in completely eradicating child labour, especially owing to the fact that the country maintains a low compulsory education age, the report adds.
The report said 10.1 per cent children in Bangladesh are engaged in work and 6.8 per cent are engaged in work and education simultaneously.
It apprehends that many of the Bangladeshi children are engaged with such a working environment that they might be victims of various risks.
Bangladeshi children working in agriculture perform a variety of tasks and may be exposed to risks such as dangerous machinery and tools, harmful pesticides and heavy loads.
Mostly female children work in the country as domestic servants in private households where, they work in exploitative conditions and are vulnerable to abuse, including sexual abuse.
Besides, children are engaged in dangerous work that includes welding, carpentry, rickshaw pulling and automobile repair.
Children work in poultry farming and in drying fish, which exposes them to harmful chemicals, dangerous machines that can cut off their fingers, and are also forced to work long hours in the hot sun.
The children of Bangladesh are involved in the production of salt, soap, matches, bricks, cigarettes, footwear, steel furniture, glass, jute, leather and textiles. While producing these goods, often in small workshops or homes, they face dangers that may include working with hazardous chemicals and sharp objects in cramped conditions with low lighting for long hours.
Children collect and process shrimp, which has led to back injuries, repetitive strain, muscle inflammation, diarrhea and infections.
Children also work dismantling large ships into smaller pieces. Children lack the physical strength necessary for ship breaking and risk exposure to hazardous chemicals, it adds.