The garment-industry experience has led to an active debate amongst development workers and child-right activists: An analysis and evaluation in relation to the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.
Before analyzing and evaluating the constitution of Bangladesh prohibiting all forms of forced labor and provides for punishment in relation to the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, it is first necessary for one to clearly understand the term named ‘Forced Labor’.
The International Labour Organization (ILO), where Bangladesh is one of the listed member countries, defines forced labour as: “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which they said person has not offered him voluntarily”. This definition is set out in the ILO’s Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29). This Convention has been ratified by over 170 states and obliges governments to “suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible period”.
Form the above definition, it can be understood that forced labour is any work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of some form punishment. Almost all slavery practices, including trafficking in people and bonded labour, contain some element of forced labour.
Forced labour affects millions of men, women and children around the world and is most frequently found in labour intensive and/or under-regulated industries, such as:
· Agriculture and fishing
· Domestic work
· Construction, mining, quarrying and brick kilns
· Manufacturing, processing and packaging
· Prostitution and sexual exploitation
· Market trading and illegal activities
The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are at least 12.3 million people in forced labour worldwide. Children are thought to make up between 40 and 50 percent of all forced labourers. Of this total some 2.4 million people are in forced labour as a result of human trafficking. Women and girls account for almost all those trafficked into sexual exploitation and the majority of people trafficked into labour exploitation. This means that some 80 per cent of all people trafficked for both economic and sexual exploitation are women and girls.
Causes of Forced Labour
In around 20 per cent of cases the State or the military is directly responsible for the use of forced labour. However, in the vast majority of cases forced labour is used by private individuals who are seeking to make profits from the exploitation of other people. Victims of forced labour are frequently from minority or marginalised groups who face institutionalised discrimination and live on the margins of society where they are vulnerable to slavery practices. Forced labour is usually obtained as a result of trapping the individual in debt bondage or by restricting their freedom of movement. In other cases violence, threats and intimidation are used and/or there is an absence of effective State protection.
Forced Labor Worldwide
Forced labour is a global problem, although some regions have larger numbers of people affected than others. The regional distribution of forced labour is:
1. Asia and Pacific: 9,490,000 (77%)
2. Latin America: 1,320,000 (11%)
3. Sub-Saharan Africa: 660,000 (5%)
4. Industrialised countries: 360,000 (3%)
5. Middle East and North Africa: 260,000 (2%)
6. Transition countries: 210,000 (2%)
Forced Labour in Bangladesh: Evaluation in relation to the fundamental rights
Bangladesh also prohibits the use of forced labour. Prohibition of forced labour in Bangladesh says:
1. All forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
2. Nothing in this article shall apply to compulsory labour.
· by persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence; or
· Required by any law for public purpose.
Garments made in Bangladesh have a good chance of being made by exploited garment workers. Garments from Bangladesh have made the US Department of Labor’s list of 122 products made with forced and child labor. In addition, the Bangladesh garment workers that are getting paid may be exploited. Any level of exploitation can lead to human trafficking and slavery. From my point of view, I think that it is necessary to have this law in the constitutions of every country. This is the one of the rights that every human has which the government of the country should be aware of.
The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also prohibits the use of forced labour and has been ratified by more than 160 states. China is the only country in the world which has not ratified either of these international standards. However, many countries have not passed specific laws defining and prohibiting forced labour with adequate punishments for those responsible. Where these laws exist they are often not enforced properly. I think that this should not be the case.
Each ILO Member which ratifies Convention 29 undertakes to suppress the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible time”. Convention 29 and 105 use the same definition for forced labour. The difference is that C. 29 bans all forms of forced or compulsory labour, except for military service or convict labour, or during emergencies such as war, fires and earthquakes, and C. 105 explicitly bans the use of compulsory labour as a means of political coercion or education, as a means to mobilize or discipline a workforce, as a punishment for taking part in a strike, or as a means of discrimination. C. 29 is ratified by 173 ILO Member States and C. 105 by 169. This high number of ratification is an important tool for trade unions in relation to the ILO supervisory mechanisms. Moreover, Conventions 29 and 105 are two of the eight core labor standards, which means that the principle of the elimination of forced labor laid down in the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work should be respected by all ILO Member States because of the very fact of their membership in the Organization. Adopted in 1998, the ILO Declaration commits Member States to respect and promote fundamental principles and rights at work, whether or not they have ratified the relevant ILO Conventions: “All Members, even if they have not ratified the Conventions in question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the Organization to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution, the principles concerning the fundamental rights which are the subject of those Conventions.” These fundamental rights are the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; the effective abolition of child labour; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. This means that there is a global consensus that forced labour is not acceptable. In practice and in theory, however, identifying forced labour offers a number of challenges. The theoretical boundaries of forced labour are thoroughly discussed in “Eradication of Forced Labour”. We will try to shed some light on the most important grey zones for trade unionists.
Three elements make legal frameworks responsive to forced labour practices.
1. There must be a prohibition of the practice.
2. There must be an adequate penalty for engaging in the practice. An adequate penalty is one that discourages the practice, or creates a disincentive to engage in the practice. According to ILO Convention No. 29, “The illegal exaction of forced or compulsory labour shall be punishable as a penal offence, and it shall be an obligation on any Member ratifying this Convention to ensure that the penalties imposed by law are really adequate and are strictly enforced.” Fines may also be imposed, and probably should be, if the penalty is to be adequate in its dissuasive effect.
3. There must be an enforcement mechanism for bringing allegations of the practice before the law for judgment. ILO Convention No. 29 requires strict enforcement of
The Special Action Programme to combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL) has spearheaded the ILO’s work in this field since early 2002. In June 1998 the International Labour Conference adopted a Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up that obligates member States to respect, promote and realize freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, the effective abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The InFocus Programmed on Promoting the Declaration is responsible for the reporting processes and technical cooperation activities associated with the Declaration, and it carries out awareness raising, advocacy and knowledge functions. In November 2001, following the publication of the first Global Report on Forced Labour, the ILO Governing Body created a Special Action Programme to combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL) as part of broader efforts to promote the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up. Since its inception, SAP-FL has been concerned with raising global awareness of forced labour in its different forms, as a necessary prerequisite for effective action against it. Several thematic and country specific studies and surveys have since been undertaken on such diverse aspects of forced labour as bonded labour, human trafficking, forced domestic work, rural servitude, and forced prison labour.
The garment-industry experience has led to an active debate amongst development workers and child-right activists. The main reason that child slave labor exists, is because of greed. If the owner of a company decides to give even just a few more cents to his workers, it would help them out a whole lot. This law exists but still it is not followed by employers. This constitution associated with punishment should be strictly enforced by the government of Bangladesh so that it does not happen further or if not at least can be reduced to a great extent. In conclusion, child slave labor is everywhere and is not leaving just yet.
Forced Labour. (2008). Retrieved September 30, 2011, from http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pd f/guide_forced_labour_EN.pdf
Shop to Stop Slavery. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2011, from http://www.shoptostopslave ry.com/do-you-have-clothes-made-by-bangladesh-garment-workers-938.html
What is Forced Labour. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2011, from http://www.anti-slaverys ociety.addr.com/forcedlabor