From the starting of the civilization, it was bound to all the human beings to follow certain constitution which was made by different region. Then the constitution changes country by country. And now it is being followed in every country and every country has its own constitution.
Constitution is the fundamental law of a country which can be written or unwritten. Constitutions establish the basic rules of a government by setting the basic principles to which a society is bound to follow. Constitution also describes the regulation, distribution, and limitations on the system of different government areas, departments, sectors; and by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers.
The concept of constitution is concerned with the role and powers of the institutions within the state and the relationship between the citizen and the state. The philosopher Aristotle (384–322 b.c.), described a constitution as a system on which the society and the system or laws of a government is built.
A constitution may be defined as an organization of offices in a state, by which the method of their distribution is fixed, the sovereign authority is determined, and the nature of the end to be pursued by the association and all its members is prescribed. Laws, as distinct from the frame of the constitution, are the rules by which the magistrates should exercise their powers, and should watch and check transgressors.
Constitutions, can be written or unwritten, typically function as an evolving body of legal custom and opinion. For the improvement of a constitution is usually maintained or described is such a way so that it can be a difficult process in order to give the constitution better stability. On the other hand, if a constitution is extremely difficult to amend, it might be too inflexible to survive over time.
Constitutions of Bangladesh
The supreme law of Bangladesh is the constitution of Bangladesh. It declares Bangladesh as a secular democratic republic where sovereignty belongs to the people and lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles of the state and spells out the fundamental rights of citizens.
Like other country, in Bangladesh every organization has its own constitution which refers to some collection of regulations, systems, rules that formulates an organizational structure. Though in Bangladesh, constitution changes over time with the change of government. There have been lots of continuous controversies, not only in Bangladesh but also in foreign country, on some aspects of the current Bangladesh Constitution, especially every government came to power and amend the constitution according to their will. No particular and specific constitutions have ever published by those governments so that we could be aware of this.
Overview of Bangladesh labor law
The labor law in Bangladesh is more than a century years old. In the Indian sub-continent period, the first labor law was enacted which was in 1881. Subsequently, the British Government introduced several laws concerning different labor issues like working hour, employment of children, maternity benefit, trade union activities, wage, etc. In 1971 after independence, the Bangladesh government retained the past law which was Bangladesh law order. In 2006, the country adopted the revised Bangladesh Labor Law of 2006 or BLL.
Prohibition of forced labor
In the constitution of Bangladesh, all forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. But the situation is not like the same as it is in the constitution.
In a country of 160 million people, only 40 % of them are educated. 80 % of the people are dependent on the agriculture sector. But with the touch of modern technology, it is getting very difficult day by day to survive in a country like Bangladesh. So people are moving to the city in search of a good job and at the end most of them are getting a lower scale job like garments work, constitution works, home mate, rickshaw puller etc. Even under age children are working. At the age when they should be in school, instead of that they are working in stalls, construction sites, big malls etc.
In the garments sector, almost 40 % of the workers show’s that they have a less than half of a year working experience. They are registering their names by giving some sort of bribes or any other preference. This shows the preference of employers for the short-term hiring of young workers, particularly in the garments industry.
Same thing is happening in the construction sites. Most of the senior workers have a working experience of 3-10 years but again this construction works are divided by three parts like day labor, construction labor and monthly based labor, which purely indicated a big employment flexibility on the construction sites. However these workers are hires by contractors or sub contractors.
Also in Bangladesh, children at a age of 5-6 are found to be worked. 38% of the child domestic are aged between 11 to 13 and 28% of the child labor are aged between 5-10 years. Child domestic workers are working whole day and most of them are aged between 12-14. The child domestic workers are often the least paid in the society, their remuneration ranging from 80 taka to 400 taka per month.
Also gender discrimination is still visible in the working environment. In according to the constitution of Bangladesh, there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in respect of employment or office in the service of the Republic.
Women are not getting the equal payment like men. In some portion, men are working less that women but getting higher wages. Also in some organizations, it is directly mentioned that only man labors are required. But women are still working. And they are being forced to work. Sometimes to pull the market demand they are involving themselves in working environment or sometimes for the pushing reason like husband dead or husband do not want to work and want to live on wife’s earning, women have to enter into the forced labor world. Not only that, they are also facing inequalities, wage differentiation, insecurity in places and working environment. Researchers found that various of women are into this forced labor world because of their family, because of bad economic condition. Also whatever they are earning, they have less or no control on their earning. While illiteracy widely affects both men and women, women have half the
literacy rate of men. Only approximately 24 % of adult women are literate, compared to
that of 44% of men. Fewer girls enroll in school and complete the various levels of
education compared to the number of boys. Hence, women are also inferior to men in
their economic role and labor force participation.
Also in the rural areas thousands of people are working with the entire family including children. Even though it is illegal but no particular actions have been taken so far to avoid this. The poor villagers took loan to survive or to maintain their family and when they are unable to replay their loan they are forcibly acted as a labor. Sometimes they are being punished.
“Thousands of children are being forced into bonded labour every day because of poverty and their parents’ unemployment,” Sumaiya Khair, a human rights activist and researcher into child labour in Dhaka, the capital, told IRIN.
“Forced labour is the antithesis of decent work,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said earlier this year. “It causes untold human suffering and steals from its victims. Modern forced labour can be eradicated, providing there is a sustained commitment by the international community, working together with government, employers, workers and civil society.”
Also in the construction industry, constructor forced their labor to finish their job within the time. Constructors are informed to finish their job within the time otherwise if they exceed the time they might have to lose their profit or add additional money. That’s why they forced their labor to work hard but within the same amount of money.
Also a same thing happens in the garments sector. Garments worker works more than eight hours daily. Sometimes they work 13-14 hours a day. There are workers who even work extra five hours of daily overtime. But they do not get their overtime wage properly. Even during the working hours, garments authority shut down all the main doors or areas so that the workers could not go outside. Also majority of the workers do not know about what they are working for or what their grade is in regards to their salary. And they are being used forcibly to work hard with lower wage.
It is the fundamental right for the citizen to get proper food, proper education and proper social welfare. But due to poverty and lack of education, most of the people in Bangladesh are unaware of this situation. They even do not know the existence of constitution of Bangladesh.
So in one side, a big portion of rich people are using the poor labors with very low wage and poor people are being forced to work. And on the other side, these poor people are bound to work because they neither have qualification nor proper education. They are bound to work otherwise if they leave their job, they and their entire family will survive a lot.
Constitution of Bangladesh provides for punishment accordingly
In the content of constitution of Bangladesh, protection in respect of trial and punishment, no individual should be subjected for torture or to cruel, unnatural, or unimaginable punishment or equal to that.
But in reality it is not happening. Labors who are poor and uneducated are being punished daily both mentally and physically. Sometimes their salary is not given properly or they are being tortured. Also those who are working as a servant at home are being punished more and most of them are under 15.
“Domestic servants, especially the women and children, are often exposed to inhuman treatment. Few, if any, are concerned with this matter unless a tragedy like a death by torture becomes public,” Nazma Ara Begum, director of the Family Planning Association of Bangladesh.
It is also stated in the constitution that no person shall be tortured and punished twice or more than one for the same crime.
But actually it is not happening. Like in the village when poor people are being unable to pay their loan, they are being punished; tortured and later their property is taken forcibly. Also in the garments, when workers made any mistake or made any kind of loss for the company, penalty which is taken from them is huge than their fault.
In the constitution of Bangladesh, it is also said that those who are accused as a criminal offence shall have their right to a speedy and public trial by an independent and legal court or tribunal established by law.
But in reality it is not happening. Criminals are moving freely and innocent people are being caught without any reasons. Same thing is happening in the garments industry. Labor unions are not being able to negotiate with the higher authority and some innocent workers have to pay without any reason. Sometimes union leaders accuse wrong persons or innocent workers and without any reason they are being punished.
So at the end, it can be said that though the constitution of Bangladesh is made in such a way so that the country can run in a good way, the people of Bangladesh can live happily. But in reality it is not maintained correctly. Politicians are using their power and rich people are using their money to ruin it. Unless the rule of law and justice providing equal opportunity for all religious and ethnic communities, no proper constitution can be maintained properly.
Reference & Bibliography:
1. Zahir, M. (2009, July 14). Eroding democratic values and Constitution [Web blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.lawinbd.co.cc/2009/07/eroding-democratic-values-and.html
2. Hood Phillips, O and P. Jackson 1978, Constitutional and Administrative Law. Sixth Edition. London, Sweet and Maxwell Shaw, Malcolm Nathan (2003). International law. Cambridge University Press. p. 178. Wheaton, Henry (1836). Elements of international law: with a sketch of the history of the science. Carey, Lea & Blanchard. p. 51
3. US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,( Feb. 25, 2009) “2008 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh,” Retrieved from www.state.gov
4. Tamanaha, Brian. “The Rule of Law for Everyone?”, Current Legal Problems, volume 55, via SSRN (2002).
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7. Bangladesh: Constitution, Law and Justice by Nagendra Kr Singh
8. Rahman, L. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh: with comments & case-laws.1994
See in- http://www.ips.siu.edu/iss/WID/project/Bangladesh/Status%20of%20Women%20in%20BangladeshProfile.pdf
 See in- http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=85617