Child labour in Bangladesh. 2 years after Rana Plaza. What has changed?

Bangladesh had its fair share of bad press in the last few years when it comes to its garment and textile industry. We all remember the collapse of the Rana Plaza in 2013 resulting in more than one thousand casualties. This followed numerous stories of inhuman working conditions and the use of child labour and firmly put the country under public scrutiny. Wolfgang travelled to Bangladesh to find out if anything has changed and how Sports Philosophy could possibly contribute.

“I had the opportunity to visit factories which supply well-known European retailers as well as local small-scale producers. I also connected with industry insiders to speak about the prevalence of child labour. It was great to see that the situation for children in the garment industry seems to be improving. Factories are under much closer scrutiny from public authorities and Western retailers these days which is forcing them to take better care of their responsibilities. 

The question we must however ask is, have we really addressed the problem? Is the lack of child labour in large factories the result of having found solutions for affected families or is it because laws are more strictly enforced? Moving around Dhaka, I could see children serving drinks and meals in restaurants, helping their parents in shops, doing little errands or just asking for money or food. You also see 6 or 7 year old children spending their days unattended on the street. What about them? What is their story?   Which opportunities do families and children have nowadays?

Given all the benefits of short-term solutions we must keep a focus on long-term and sustainable strategies. Although it might be relatively easy to take a child out of employment we are not convinced that the situation will be better afterwards. At Sports Philosophy we feel responsible for finding these long term solutions. We therefore centre our research around understanding the life cycle that leads children into employment. Only then can we design projects that actively break this life cycle and give children a better future.”