Forced labour represents a restriction on human freedom-illustrate and explain

Forced labour represents a restriction on human freedom-illustrate and explain.


Forced labor is defined as work or service, which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which they said person has not offered him voluntarily.

Forced labor is a very old concept that existed even in thousands of years ago. Today almost 12 million people around the world are trapped in forced labor. It is also known as un free labour and it takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are the most susceptible – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing. According to the United Nations, every year 4 million people traded against their will to work in a form of servitude. The majority of them come from Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Forced labour represents a restriction in human freedom, a violation of human rights; most of the countries of the world prohibit this in human act. According to ILO, International Labour Organization, forced labour occurs .

… when people are being subjected to psychological and/or physical coercion (the menace of a penalty) in order to perform some work or service which they would otherwise not have accepted, or not have accepted at the prevailing conditions (the involuntariness)

Forced labour is a century old disease of our nation. Constitution of Bangladesh, which is the supreme law of Bangladesh, like most of the nations, prohibits all sort of forced labour under article 34 and it considers forced labour as a criminal offense.

Literature Review

Every organization such as a state, a university, a trade union, a club will have a constitution, which refers to a set of rules and regulations defining the formation and functioning of the organization. The constitution of a state defines the most important institutions. These institutions include the decision makers, elected representatives, judiciary and the nature and scope of their powers. In addition, the rights and freedom of citizens, rights of the government with which the government cannot lawfully interfere are also included in the constitution. Very broadly, a constitution of a state may be defined as being –

“… the whole system of government of a country, the collection of rules which establish and regulate or govern the Government.”

Forced labour has been described as a modern form of slavery, and yet there is limited public awareness of the subject compared with related issues such as people smuggling, human trafficking, and exploitation in the sex industry. The ILO has identified six basic indicators of forced labour:

1. Threats or actual physical harm to the worker.

3. Restriction of movement and confinement, to the workplace or to a limited area.

3. Debt bondage, where the worker works to pay off a debt or loan, and is not paid for his or her services. The employer may provide food and accommodation at such inflated prices that the worker cannot escape the debt.

Withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions that violate previously made agreements.

4. Retention of passports and identity documents so that the worker cannot leave or prove his/her identity and status.

6. Threat of denunciation to the authorities, where the worker is in an irregular immigration status.

The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also prohibits the use of forced labour (Article 8) and has been sanctioned by more than 160 nations including Bangladesh. China is the only country the world which has not sanctioned any sort of international standards regarding forced labour.

Article 34: Prohibition of forced labour

Article 34 of Constitution of 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

What Article 34 prohibits is ‘forced labour’ – that is labour or service which a person is forced to provide – and the ‘force’ that would make such labour or service. This ‘forced labour’ may ascend in several ways such as it may be physical force that can coerce a person to provide labour or service to another, or it may be force wielded through a legal endowment, such as a endowment for imprisonment or fine in case the employee fails to provide labour or service. It may even be force arising from hunger and poverty, want and destitution. Any factor that divests a person of a choice of replacements and forces him to adopt one of these particular course of action may properly be regarded as ‘force’ and if labour or service is compelled as a result of such ‘force’ it would be referred as ‘forced labour’.

Where a person is suffering from hunger or starvation or when he has no resources at all to fight disease or to feed his wife and children, or even to hide their nakedness, where utter, grinding poverty has broken his back and reduced him to a state of helplessness and despair, and where no other employment is available to alleviate the rigor of his poverty, he would have no choice but to accept any work that comes his way. Even if the remuneration offered to him is less than the minimum wage. In such condition he would be in no position to bargain with his employer except for accepting whatever is offered to him. In such economic circumstances he would not be acting as a free agent. The labour or service provided to him in that case is clearly a forced labour.

So there is no reason why the word ‘forced’ should be read in a narrow and restrict- ted manner and only restricted to physical or legal ‘force’.

Forced Labour In Bangladesh

There are different types of forced labour exist in Bangladesh only major issues are mentioned :

Domestic servant: women and children end up as domestic servants and they have to work in a condition that resembles slavery. Many suffer physical abuse, sometimes resulting in their death. It is such a widely practiced profession in Bangladesh that nobody cares to raise a question about it except for some human rights organization.

Prostitutionand sexual exploitation: women of different ages are forced for sexual slavery. This sort of forced labour is increasing day by day. Women and children are forced to particiapate in these sort of activities and business.

Debt bondage: Although rare in urban Bangladesh, bonded labour is common in rural is the condition that arisesfrom a pledging by a debtor of his personal services or of those of a person under his control as security for a debt, the length and nature of those services are not respectively limited and defined. Most of the cases they are forced to take out a loan due to a temporary financial crisis, often caused or aggravated by a poor harvest or family emergency.

Servile forms of marriage: it is the state when a woman is promised or given in marriage on payment of a consideration in money or in kind to her parents, guardian, family or any other person or group; or the husband of a woman, his family, or his clan, has the right to transfer her to another person for value received or otherwise; or a woman on the death of her husband is liable to be inherited by another person.

Human Trafficking: Bangladesh is a source and transit country for men, women, and children trafficking. Fraudulent employment offer is one of the major reason behind this where victims are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced labor or debt bondage.

The exploitation of children and adolescents: any institution or practice whereby a child or young person under the age of 18 years, is delivered by either or both of his natural parents or by his guardian to another person, whether for reward or not, with a view to the exploitation of the child or young person or of his labor.


The Government of Bangladesh made limited efforts to protect victims over last few years and the steps that they take are not that effective at all. Government lacks the effort to protect the victims. A “one-stop crisis center” for women and children in the Dhaka general hospital is established by the government though it is not effective in ensuring the protection of the victims. These centers, in cooperation with NGOs, provided legal, medical, and psychiatric services. In some cases majority of victims are male in such cases ‘one stop crisis’ center will be very inappropriate. In terms of human trafficking our foreign ministry has taken some steps. Some human rights organization and NGO’s are working on this matter. It is also true that our law enforcement agency is not taking this issue seriously.

While workers ostensibly had several options to address complaints of labor and recruitment violations and to get compensation, the process most often used – arbitration by Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) – did not provide sufficient financial compensation and rarely addressed the illegal activities of some recruitment agencies, all of which are BAIRA members.[1]


The Bangladeshi government failed to take adequate efforts to prevent the forced labor of Bangladeshis not only in abroad but also at home. Government has taken some steps to create awareness among people about forced labour, because there are some forced labour exist in our country which we even bother to consider it as a forced labour, take the example of domestic servants. Government should take some serious actions to reduce the demand of forced labour. Sufferers of forced labour are most of the time from minority or relegated groups who face institutionalized discrimination and live on the boundaries of society where they are vulnerable to slavery practices. So government should take some steps to create awareness among these minorities.


No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

( Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Forced labour is a global problem, although some regions have larger numbers of people affected than others. And it is growing day by day as the demand for forced labour is increasing. Our country is also facing this problem and the constitution of our country clearly prohibits all sort of forced labour. But it is our governments duty to protects it s citizens from forced labour by implementing these laws properly and effectively.

It can be conluded by stating that forced labour can be abolished with a combination of political will and concerted efforts on the part of the international community, a range of ministries, the social partners and nongovernmental organizations.


Forced Labour: Definition, Indicators and Measurement 2004 – ILO

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 4, 1948

Wheare, K.C. (1966). Modern Constitutions. Oxford University Press

Belser, 2005: forced labour, p.2

[1]see in protection