Child Labour in Bangladesh

It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 working in Bangladesh. Since these children start working at such a young age, they are unable to complete any formal education, and therefore get trapped in a life of low-skilled labour from which most will never escape.  The nature of their work is often dangerous, working in small factories or cottage industry shops with very little in the way of safety precautions.

This is an issue which may appear to be black and white on the surface, but is decidedly more complex. In an ideal world all of these children would be enrolled in school instead of working in small factories and workshops, but reality does conform to ideals. These jobs, as menial and underpaid as they may be, keep these children off the streets and provide income that is essential to the survival of their families.

 This story was shot in the capital city of Dhaka.

A boy works in a moto-rickshaw repair shop near the Kamalapur railways station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy works in a moto-rickshaw repair shop near the Kamalapur railways station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy's back is stained with grease from his work in a roadside scooter repair shop near the Kamalapur railways station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy’s back is stained with grease from his work in a roadside scooter repair shop near the Kamalapur railways station. Dhaka, 2012.

Two young boys stand in the taxi repair garage where they work cleaning engines and tidying the shop floor. Dhaka, 2012.

Two young boys stand in the taxi repair garage where they work cleaning engines and tidying the shop floor. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy uses a sledghammer to straighten metal bars in a small shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy uses a sledghammer to straighten metal bars in a small shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy takes a break from repairing inner tubes in the Dolai Khal district. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy takes a break from repairing inner tubes in the Dolai Khal district. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy shapes pieces of rubber using a hammer and chisel near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012

A boy shapes pieces of rubber using a hammer and chisel near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012

A young boy repairs flat tires along the road near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A young boy repairs flat tires along the road near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

The grease covered hands of a boy working in an engine repair shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

The grease covered hands of a boy working in an engine repair shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A street boy with no job smokes a cigarette near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. He lives in a rusted coal barge along with other unemployed street children.

A street boy with no job smokes a cigarette near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. He lives in a rusted coal barge along with other unemployed street children.

A small machine shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A small machine shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy stacks lumber in a mill along the Buriganga river. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy stacks lumber in a mill along the Buriganga river. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy works a machine lathe in a small workshop along the Buriganga river. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy works a machine lathe in a small workshop along the Buriganga river. Dhaka, 2012.

A worker in a sewing shop near the Mach Bazaar. Dhaka, 2012.

A worker in a sewing shop near the Mach Bazaar. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy strips wires in the Dolai Khal district. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy strips wires in the Dolai Khal district. Dhaka, 2012.

A young welder repairs moto-rickshaws near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A young welder repairs moto-rickshaws near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy uses a hand press to bind books near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy uses a hand press to bind books near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka, 2012.

A sewing shop in Sadarghat. Bangladesh has an extensive textile industry and many children are employed to operate the machines. Dhaka, 2012.

A sewing shop in Sadarghat. Bangladesh has an extensive textile industry and many children are employed to operate the machines. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy repairs car engines in a shop near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy repairs car engines in a shop near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy and his father work in a printing shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka.

A boy and his father work in a printing shop near the Sadarghat ferry terminal. Dhaka.

A boy uses a hand-operated machine to stamp small metal brackets near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy uses a hand-operated machine to stamp small metal brackets near the Kamalapur railway station. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy takes a break from his work in an engine repair shop along the Buriganga river. Dhaka, 2012.

A boy takes a break from his work in an engine repair shop along the Buriganga river. Dhaka, 2012.