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Thousands of Bangladeshi children work 64 hours a week for global clothing brands: report

A child laborer at work in a small garment factory, where he works on the finishing stages of making blue jeans. (Photo by ANDREW HOLBROOKE/Corbis via Getty Images).
A child laborer at work in a small garment factory, where he works on the finishing stages of making blue jeans. (Photo by ANDREW HOLBROOKE/Corbis via Getty Images).

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Thousands of Bangladeshi children who live in the capital’s slums are working illegally for an average of 64 hours a week, with many employed by the garment industry making clothing for top global brands, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The report by the London-based Overseas Development Institute found that 15 per cent of children aged 6-14 were not attending school so they could work full time.

At the age of 10, about 8 per cent of slum-dwelling children had jobs, the report said. By the time they reached 14, almost half were already working.

The report was based on a survey of 2,700 slum households in Dhaka.

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Authorities did not immediately respond for requests for comment.

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In Bangladesh, it is illegal for children under 14 to work. It is also illegal to ask anyone to do “hazardous work” for more than 42 hours a week.

But child labour persists, as some factories do not require ID cards from their workers or do not understand that employing children is against the law.

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Children would like to go to school, the report’s co-author Maria Quattri said in a statement, “but poverty was driving parents to find jobs for their children, even though they could see that it would jeopardize their long-term future.”

Bangladesh’s garment industry, the world’s second largest after China, provides an economic lifeline for the impoverished country, accounting for some $25 billion in annual exports.

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It also employs around 4 million workers, most of them women. Industry insiders say factories struggle to keep employees from moving to jobs elsewhere.

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