Behind the rapid advancement of the fast fashion industry, in fact, there are rights of children who are ignored. This fact is indeed bitter, but it is inevitable that the cheap clothes we always buy are the work of poor children from Bangladesh, even some of them are only 6 years old.
Children who should be able to enjoy the beauty of playing must endure the heavy burden of life by working hard in a long hour every week. Most of these children work in textile factories to make clothes for some famous brands.
Hundreds of Children Work for the Fast Fashion Industry
Based on the results of a study conducted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in 2016, about one-third of children living in the slums of the capital city of Bangladesh became garment factory workers. Their working time averages 64 hours per week. That’s not the normal total working time, of course, especially for underage children.
The London-based research institute surveyed 2,700 families in Bangladesh. They found that 32 percent of children aged 10 to 14 years old residents of Dhaka chose to leave school to be able to work full-time in garment factories. Ironically, the income earned most of them is not comparable to the energy that is devoted, which is less than $ 2 a day.
ODI stated that their findings raise serious concerns about child labor in the supply of clothing from factories in Bangladesh to consumers in Europe, the US, and other places. The high working scale of school-age children in the sector, plus the relationship between small-scale factories and large-scale exporters makes children in Dhaka participate in the export production.
Although the research conducted by ODI does not represent nationally, it does at least provide an overview of the world of workers in big cities like Dhaka. Nearly half of Dhaka’s population lives in Bangladesh’s slums and underage workers are scattered in these slums.
Several attempts have been made by Bangladesh to eliminate the worst types of child labor in recent years, but there are still many. There are more than 5 million children in the country, aged between 5 and 17 years, still involved in several types of work. The data was obtained from reports from the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Child Labor in the Fast Fashion Industry
Applicable law in Bangladesh actually stipulates that a minimum of 14 years old is permitted. However, since the age of 12, children are allowed to help work with a record of working hours of 42 hours a week as long as they do not interfere with their education.
Unfortunately, the legal provisions are almost ignored. The UN estimates that more than 90 percent of child laborers work in the informal sector such as small workshops, roads, home businesses, and so on. In such places, the prevailing labor law is poorly enforced and is often ignored by people.
More than half of the 14-year-old children living in Dhaka have worked. Two-thirds are girls employed for the garment industry worth $ 25 billion USD per year in Bangladesh – equivalent to Rp.335 trillion rupiah – compared to 13 percent of boys. The garment industry in this country is indeed the second largest in the world after China.
The children who worked were reported to have achieved significant amounts of extreme fatigue, back pain, and fever, as well as minor injuries. To prevent this number from increasing, ODI reported that it was estimated that the prospect of investigations and monitoring would prevent the recruitment of minors. Fines will also be put into effect for those who violate the law on child labor and there will be an impromptu examination without notice by the Head of Factory Inspector (working under the auspices of the Ministry of Manpower).
The existence of a systematic problem of enforcement and compliance with the applicable law makes ODI urge brands to take a more proactive role and provide solutions to the problem of empowering these minors.
Consumers should also be wiser and more critical of their fashion choices. Who would have thought, there was sweat pouring from children who were supposed to learn and play while reaching their big dreams behind the beauty of the strands of the fast fashion industry products that we use.