Measuring the Change
using prevalence data providing the widest temporal coverage of the most complete and comparable measures available by ICLS standards.
Child labour between 2003 and 2013 decreased by 55%.
Best Target 8.7 Data: Child Labour Rate
The data visualization displays yearly child labour statistics based on a variety of nationally-representative household surveys. All years of data hold up to standards set by interagency collaboration between ILO, UNICEF and World Bank, though, in some cases are not perfectly comparable between years. Detailed information on each data point is provided in the Measurement tab (above).
- Child labour: ILO/UNICEF Data
- Forced labour: No nationally representative data
- Human trafficking: No nationally representative data
Human Development Index Score: 0.632 (2019)
Mean School Years: 6.2 years (2019)
Vulnerable Employment: 57.8% (2011)
Working Poverty Rate: 63.9% (2016)
- ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, P029: Not ratified
- ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, C182: Ratified 2002
- UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol): Accession 2019
Social Protection Coverage
General (at least one): 28.4% (2016)
Unemployed: 0% (2013)
Pension: 33.4% (2016)
Vulnerable: 4.3% (2016)
Children: 29.4% (2016)
Disabled: 18.5% (2016)
Poor: 11% (2016)
Measurement of child labour prevalence has evolved considerably over the past two decades. Estimates of child labour incidence are more robust and exist for more countries than any other form of exploitation falling under SDG Target 8.7.
Child Labour Rate, Aged 5-17 (Source: ILO)
Based on the international conventions and the International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) resolution, and consistent with the approach utilized in the ILO global child labour estimates exercise, the statistical definition of child labour used includes:
a) children aged 5-11 years in all forms of economic activity;
b) children aged 12-14 years in all forms of economic activity except permissible “light” work;
c) children and adolescents aged 15-17 years in hazardous work; and
d) children aged 5-14 years performing household chores for at least 21 hours per week.
In Bangladesh, the percentage of child labourers has decreased overall from 2003 to 2013.
The chart displays differences in the percentage of children aged 5-17 in child labour by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups is provided for 2003 and 2013.
Children in Hazardous Work, Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)
Hazardous child labour is the largest category of the worst forms of child labour with an estimated 73 million children aged 5-17 working in dangerous conditions in a wide range of sectors. Worldwide, the ILO estimates that some 22,000 children are killed at work every year.
In Bangladesh, the latest estimates show that 1.3 percent of children aged 5-14 were engaged in hazardous work in 2013. The number is lower than the estimate of 9.4 percent of children aged 5-14 engaged in hazardous work in 2003.
The chart displays differences in the percentage of children aged 5-14 in hazardous labour by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups is provided for 2003 and 2013.
Children in Hazardous Work, Aged 15-17 (Source: ILO)
Children aged 15-17 are permitted to engage in economic activities by international conventions in most cases, except when the work is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children (Article 3 (d) of ILO Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, 1999 (No. 182)).
In Bangladesh, the latest estimates show that 15.7 percent of children aged 15-17 were engaged in hazardous work in 2013. The percentage is lower than the estimate of 26.1 percent of children aged 15-17 engaged in hazardous work in 2003.
The chart displays differences in the percentage of children aged 15-17 in hazardous labour by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups is provided for 2003 and 2013.
Weekly Work Hours, Children Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)
Children aged 5-11 are considered to be subjected to child labour when engaging in any form of economic activity. Children aged 12-14 are permitted to engage in “light” work that is not considered hazardous and falls below 14 hours per week.
According to the latest 2013 estimates, the average number of hours worked per week by children aged 5-14 in Bangladesh was 34.2 hours. The average number of hours worked has increased from 25.2 hours in 2006.
The chart displays differences in the number of hours that children aged 5-14 work in economic activities by sex and region. The sample includes all children of this age group. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups is provided for 2003, 2006 and 2013.
Weekly Work Hours, Children Only in Economic Activity, Aged 5-14 (Source: ILO)
Children not attending school who are engaged in economic activity can be subjected to longer working hours.
In 2013, the latest year with available data, children in economic activity only, meaning they are not in school, worked an average of 36.1 hours per week. This number has decreased since 2006, when the average number of hours worked by this age group was 40.9.
The chart displays differences in the number of hours children aged 5-14 work in economic activities who are not in school, by sex and region. Complete disaggregated data to compare groups is provided for 2003, 2006 and 2013.
Children in Economic Activity by Sector, Aged 5-14: Total (Source: ILO)
Identifying the sectors in which the most child labour exists can help policy actors and practitioners target efforts toward those industries.
The latest data available on child labour by sector for Bangladesh is from 2013. By the 2013 estimate, the Agriculture sector had the most child labourers, followed by the Manufacturing sector and Other Services sector.
The chart to the left displays child labour prevalence in each sector for all children. The charts below show the differences in child labour by sector with comparisons by sex and region.
Children in Economic Activity by Sector: Sex (Source: ILO)
Children in Economic Activity by Sector, Aged 5-14: Area (Source: ILO)
SDG Indicator 8.7.1, Economic Activity (Source: ILO)
While the concept of child labour includes working in activities that are hazardous in nature, to ensure comparability of estimates over time and to minimize data quality issues, work beyond age-specific hourly thresholds is used as a proxy for hazardous work for the purpose of reporting on SDG indicator 8.7.1. Similarly, while the worst forms of child labour other than hazardous also form part of the concept of child labour more broadly, data on the worst forms of child labour are not currently captured in regular household surveys given difficulties with accurately and reliably measuring it. Therefore, this element of child labour is not captured by the indicators used for reporting on SDG 8.7.1.
In accordance with the ICLS resolutions, child labour can be measured on the basis of the production boundary set by the United Nations System of National Accounts (SNA), which limits the frame of reference to economic activity.
The chart displays the proportion and number of children aged 5-17 years engaged in economic activities at or above age-specific hourly thresholds in Bangladesh for the year 2019. Gender disaggregated data is provided for 2019.
SDG Indicator 8.7.1, Household Chores (Source: ILO)
In addition to being measured on the basis of SNA, child labour can also be measured on the basis of the general production boundary, which includes economic activity and unpaid household services, that is, the production of domestic and personal services by a household member for consumption within their own household, commonly called “household chores”.
The chart displays the proportion of children aged 5-17 years engaged in economic activities and household chores at or above age-specific hourly thresholds in Bangladesh for the year 2019. Gender disaggregated data is provided for 2019.
Measuring the incidence of forced labour is a much more recent endeavour and presents unique methodological challenges compared to the measurement of child labour.
No nationally representative data is available on forced labour prevalence in Bangladesh.
Visit the How to Measure the Change page for information on new guidelines presented by the International Labour Organization and adopted by the International Conference of Labour Statisticians.
The challenges in estimating human trafficking are similar to those of estimating forced labour, though recent innovations in estimation have begun to produce prevalence estimates in developed countries.
No nationally representative data is available on human trafficking prevalence in Bangladesh.
Visit the How to Measure the Change page to learn about measuring human trafficking prevalence, including information on collecting data through national referral mechanisms and producing prevalence statistics using Multiple Systems Estimation (MSE).
Case Data: International and Non-Governmental Organizations
Civil society organizations (CSOs) focused on human trafficking victim assistance can serve as crucial sources of data through their ability to reach a population that is notoriously difficult to sample.
Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC): The International Organization for Migration (IOM), Polaris and Liberty Asia have launched a global data repository on human trafficking, with data contributed by counter-trafficking partner organizations around the world. Not only does the CTDC serve as a central repository for this critical information, it also publishes normed and harmonized data from various organizations using a unified schema. This global dataset facilitates an unparalleled level of cross-border, trans-agency analysis and provides the counter-trafficking movement with a deeper understanding of this complex issue. Equipped with this information, decision makers will be empowered to create more targeted and effective intervention strategies.
UNODC compiles a global dataset on detected and prosecuted traffickers, which serves as the basis in their Global Report for country profiles. This information is beginning to paint a picture of trends over time, and case-specific information can assist investigators and prosecutors.
Key aspects of human development, such as poverty and lack of education, are found to be associated with risk of exploitation. Policies that address these issues may indirectly contribute to getting us closer to achieving Target 8.7.
Human Development Index (Source: UNDP)
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of achievements in three key dimensions of human development: (1) a long and healthy life; (2) access to knowledge; and (3) a decent standard of living. Human development can factor into issues of severe labour exploitation in multiple ways.
The chart displays information on human development in Bangladesh between 1990 and 2019. Only certain sample years have data disaggregated by sex.
The most recent year of HDI, 2019, shows that the average human development score in Bangladesh is 0.632. This score indicates medium human development.
HDI Education Index (Source: UNDP)
Lack of education and illiteracy are key factors that make both children and adults more vulnerable to exploitive labour conditions.
As the seminal ILO report Profits and Poverty explains:
“Adults with low education levels and children whose parents are not educated are at higher risk of forced labour. Low education levels and illiteracy reduce employment options for workers and often force them to accept work under poor conditions. Furthermore, individuals who can read contracts may be in a better position to recognize situations that could lead to exploitation and coercion.”
The bars on the chart represent the Education Index score and the line traces the mean years of education in Bangladesh over time.
Decent work, a major component of SDG 8 overall, has clear implications on the forms of exploitation within Target 8.7. Identifying shortcomings in equitable, safe and stable employment can be a step in the right direction towards achieving Target 8.7.
HDI Vulnerable Employment (Source: UNDP)
There are reasons to believe that certain types of labour and labour arrangements are more likely to lead to labour exploitation. According to the ILO:
“Own-account workers and contributing family workers have a lower likelihood of having formal work arrangements, and are therefore more likely to lack elements associated with decent employment, such as adequate social security and a voice at work. The two statuses are summed to create a classification of ‘vulnerable employment’, while wage and salaried workers together with employers constitute ‘non-vulnerable employment’.”
Between 2000 and 2011, Bangladesh showed a decrease in the proportion of workers in vulnerable employment as compared to those in secure employment.
Working Poverty Rate (Source: ILO)
Labour income tells us about a household’s vulnerability. As the ILO explains in Profits and Poverty:
“Poor households find it particularly difficult to deal with income shocks, especially when they push households below the food poverty line. In the presence of such shocks, men and women without social protection nets tend to borrow to smooth consumption, and to accept any job for themselves or their children, even under exploitative conditions.”
ILO indicators that measure poverty with respect to the labour force include working poverty rate, disaggregated by sex, with temporal coverage spanning from 2000 to 2016. The chart displays linear trends in working poverty rate over time for all individuals over 15 years of age.
Labour Productivity (Source: ILO)
“Labour productivity is an important economic indicator that is closely linked to economic growth, competitiveness, and living standards within an economy.” However, when increased labour output does not produce rising wages, this can point to increasing inequality. As indicated by a recent ILO report (2015), there is a “growing disconnect between wages and productivity growth, in both developed and emerging economies”. The lack of decent work available increases the vulnerability of individuals to situations of labour exploitation.
Labour productivity represents the total volume of output (measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) produced per unit of labour (measured in terms of the number of employed persons) during a given period.
Research to date suggests that a major factor in vulnerability to labour exploitation is broader social vulnerability, marginalization or exclusion.
Groups Highly Vulnerable to Exploitation (Source: UNHCR)
Creating effective policy to prevent and protect individuals from forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour means making sure that all parts of the population are covered, particularly the most vulnerable groups, including migrants.
According to the 2016 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: “Almost one of every four victims of forced labour were exploited outside their country of residence, which points to the high degree of risk associated with migration in the modern world, particularly for migrant women and children. “
As IOM explains: “Although most migration is voluntary and has a largely positive impact on individuals and societies, migration, particularly irregular migration, can increase vulnerability to human trafficking and exploitation.” UNODC similarly notes that: “The vulnerability to being trafficked is greater among refugees and migrants in large movements, as recognized by Member States in the New York declaration for refugees and migrants of September 2016.”
The chart displays UNHCR’s estimates of persons of concern in Bangladesh.
Achieving SDG Target 8.7 will require national governments to take direct action against the forms of exploitation through policy implementation.
Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 1972
Article 34. Prohibition of forced labour:
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.
2a. by persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence; or required by any law for public purpose.
The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012
Article 2.4. “Forced labour or service” means any work or service that is exacted from any person under the threat to loss or damage to life, liberty, right, property or reputation of the person
Labour Act, 2006
Article 34. Prohibition of employment of children and adolescent:
1. No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or establishment.
2. No adolescent shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or establishment unless-
2.a. a certificate of fitness in the prescribed form and granted to him by a registered medical practitioner is in the custody of the employer ; and
2.b. he carries , while at work, a token giving a reference to such certificate.
3. Nothing in this sub-section 2, shall apply to the employment of any adolescent in any occupation or establishment either as an apprentice or or the purpose or receiving vocational training therein:
4. The Government may, where it is of opinion that an emergency has arisen and the public interest so requires, by notification in the official Gazette, declare that the provisions of this sub-section (2), shall not be in operation for such period as may be specified in the notification.
Article 35. Prohibition of certain agreement in respect of children: Subject to the provisions of this chapter, no person, being the parent or guardian of a child, shall make an agreement, to allow the service of the child to be utilized in any employment.
Article 2.Lxiii. ‘Child’ means a person who has not completed his fourteenth year of age;
Worst Forms of Child Labour
Labour Act, 2006
Article 39. Restriction of employment of adolescent in certain work:
1. No adolescent shall be allowed in any establishment to clean, lubricate of adjust any part of machinery while that part is in motion or to work between moving parts, of any machinery which is in motion.
Article 40. Employment of adolescent on dangerous machines:
1. No adolescent shall work at any machine unless-
1.a. he has been fully instructed as to the dangers arising in connection with the machine and the precautions to be observed, and-
1.b. has received sufficient training in work at the machine, or is under adequate supervision by a person who has thorough knowledge and experience of the machine,
2. This provision shall apply to such machines as may be notified by the government to be of such a dangerous character that an adolescent ought not to work at them unless the requirements of sub-section 1 are complied with.
3. The Government may from time to time publish in the official gazette the list such of hazardous works where, no adolescent shall be employed.
Article 41. Working hours for adolescent:
1. No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in any factory or mine, for more than five hours in any day and thirty hours in any week;
2. No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in any other establishment, for more than seven hours in any day and forty-two hours in any week.
3. No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in any establishment between the hours of 7.00 P.M and 7.00 a.m.
4. If an adolescent works overtime, the total number of hours worked, including overtime shall not exceed-
4.a. in any factory or mine, thirty six hours in any week;
4.b. in any other establishment, forty eight hours in any week.
5. the period of work of an adolescent employed in an establishment shall be limited to two shifts which shall not overlap or spread over more than seven and a half hours each.
6. An adolescent shall be employed in only one of the relays which shall not, except with the previous permission in writing of the Inspector, be changed more frequently than once in a period of thirty days.
7. The provisions of weekly holiday shall apply also to adolescent workers, and no exemption from the provisions of that section shall be granted in respect of any adolescent.
8. No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in more than one establishment in any day.
Article 42. Prohibition of employment of adolescent in underground and underwater work:
1. No adolescent shall be employed in any underground or underwater work.
“A government order issued in Bangladesh on 13 March 2013 identifies 38 processes/activities hazardous for children. In 2012, the Tripartite Coordinating Committee had recommended 36 processes/activities, but later the Ministry of Labour and Employment revised it to include two additional sectors based on comments received from various ministries. The 28 processes/activities have been listed out in this document.”
The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012
Article 3. Human Trafficking
1. “Human trafficking ” means the selling or buying, recruiting or receiving, deporting or transferring, sending or confining or harbouring either inside or outside of the territory of Bangladesh of any person for the purpose of sexual exploitation or oppression, labour exploitation or any other form of exploitation or oppression by means of-
1.a. threat or use of force; or
1.b. deception, or abuse of his or her socio-economic or environmental or other types of vulnerability; or
1.c. giving or receiving money or benefit to procure the consent of a person having control over him or her
2. If the victim of trafficking is a child, it shall be immaterial whether any of the means of committing the offence mentioned in clause a to c of sub-section 1 is used or not.
Explanation.-For the purposes of this section, if any person induces or assists any other person through deception and foe bad intention to move, migrate or emigrate for work or service, either inside or outside of the territory of Bangladesh, though he knows that such other person would be put into exploitative labour conditions similar to practices of servitude or forced labour or into any other form of exploitation or oppression as mentioned in subsection 15 of section 2, such act of the person shall be included as an act within the meaning of “human trafficking” as defined in sub-section 1.
Article 2.6. “Slavery” means the reduction of status and position of any person to a condition in which he is controlled or treated as property by another person and shall also include a condition arising from a debt or a contract made by that person;
“Identifies strategies for developing institutional capacity, increasing access to education and health services, raising social awareness, strengthening law enforcement, and creating prevention and reintegration programs. During the reporting period, the government provided stipends to working children to help them return to school through the fourth phase of the Elimination of Hazardous Child Labor program.”
“Sets the minimum age for domestic work at 14 years; children ages 12 and 13 can work as domestic workers with parental permission. However, the policy is not legally enforceable until the legal framework is amended to reflect the revised policy. During the reporting period, the government sought to ensure the rights and welfare of domestic workers.”
“Establishes a plan to build government capacity to address trafficking in persons and provide economic and social safety nets for victims and vulnerable populations, particularly children.”
“Specifies the government’s education policy, including pre-primary, primary, secondary, vocational and technical, higher, and non-formal education policies. Sets the compulsory age for free education through eighth grade (age 14). During the reporting period, primary education was extended to eighth grade in 609 schools, new secondary schools were constructed, and existing secondary schools were renovated, including the installation of girls’ toilets.”
“Includes the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, with a focus on child domestic workers and other vulnerable groups. Sets out actions to be taken by the Government, including forming a policy for children working in the formal sector, providing assistance to street children to protect them from exploitation, coordinating the Government and other stakeholders for effective rehabilitation, increasing working children’s access to formal and non-formal learning, and providing livelihood support to poor households with children. Approved in 2015 and launched in 2016.”
Governments can take action to assist victims and to prevent and end the perpetration of forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour. These actions should be considered in efforts to reduce prevalence and move towards eradication of these forms of exploitation.
Programs and Agencies for Victim Support (Source: U.S. Department of Labor)
Policies for Assistance
Article 36. Protection, rehabilitation and social integration:
1. The victim of human trafficking shall, upon being rescued, if not returned to his own family, be sent to any government or non-government protective home or rehabilitation centre and all information relating thereto shall be sent at once to the Government or to the competent authority
2. Every victim of human trafficking residing in a protective home or rehabilitation centre shall be entitled to give consent to the concerned matter and to get medical treatment and legal and psychological counseling service including sustainable rehabilitation and social integration facilities
Article 37. Provisions regarding the protection of victims or affected persons and witnesses in criminal trial:
1. Any person or agency dealing with the subject-matter of this Act shall endeavor to ensure that any victim of the offence of human trafficking is not subjected to conviction or punishment under this Act or any other existing law
Penalties, Child Labour
“Act to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Act changes the legal definition of a child from being a person under the age of 14 to one under the age of 18. It criminalizes any kind of cruelty inflicted on children while they are working in both the formal and informal sectors. In addition, the Act will prescribe punishments for using or exploiting children in begging, in brothels, and in carrying drugs, arms, or other illegal commodities.”
Article 284. Penalty for employment of child and adolescent : whoever employs any child or adolescent or permits any child or adolescent to work in contravention of any provision of this act; shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five thousand taka.
Article 285. Penalty for making agreement in respect of a child in contravention of section -35 : Whoever, being the parent or guardian of a child, makes an agreement in respect of such child in contravention of section 35, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one thousand taka.
The Penal Code (Act No. XLV of 1860)
370. Whoever imports, exports, removes, buys, sells or disposes of any person as a slave, or accepts, receives or detains against his will any person as a slave, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
371. Whoever habitually imports, exports, removes, buys, sells, traffics or deals in slaves, shall be punished with 129[ imprisonment] for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
372. Whoever sells, lets to hire, or otherwise disposes of any person under the age of eighteen years with intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution of illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Selling minor for purposes on prostitution, etc.
373. Whoever buys, hires or otherwise obtains possession of any person under the age of eighteen years with intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
374.1. Whoever unlawfully compels any person to labour against the will of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
374.2. Whoever compels a prisoner of war or a protected person to serve in the armed forces of Bangladesh shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year.
Article 6. Prohibition of human trafficking and penalty
Article 7. Penalty for the organized offence of human trafficking
Article 8. Penalty for instigating, conspiring or attempting to commit and offence
Article 9. Penalty for forced or bonded labour or service
Article 10. Penalty for kidnapping, stealing and confining with intent to commit the offence of human trafficking
Article 11. Penalty for importing or transferring for prostitution or any other form of sexual exploitation or oppression
Article 12. Penalty for keeping a brother or allowing any place to be used as a brothel
Article 13. Penalty for soliciting for the purpose of prostitution
Programs and Agencies for Enforcement (Source: U.S. Department of Labor)
Measures to address the drivers of vulnerability to exploitation can be key to effective prevention. A broad range of social protections are thought to reduce the likelihood that an individual will be at risk for exploitation, especially when coverage of those protections extends to the most vulnerable groups.
Social Protection Coverage: General (at Least One)
Social Protection (Source: ILO)
The seminal ILO paper on the economics of forced labour, Profits and Poverty, explains the hypothesis that social protection can mitigate the risks that arise when a household is vulnerable to sudden income shocks, helping to prevent labour exploitation. It also suggests that access to education and skills training can enhance the bargaining power of workers and prevent children in particular from becoming victims of forced labour. Measures to promote social inclusion and address discrimination against women and girls may also go a long way towards preventing forced labour.
If a country does not appear on a chart, this indicates that there is no recent data available for the particular social protection visualized.