Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lunch of garment workers

Large industrial units/ offices/ organizations or factories have opportunities for lunch like canteen system from where workers get scope to take foods in cheap prices or easily. They also get scope to take tea, snacks, pure water etc. There is also a good numbers workers work in the garment factories in Dhaka city. Do you know the facilities of lunch for these poor garment workers? I have talked with some garments workers (especially with Masuma, Mafia who worked long days (10 years) in the garments factories) and find out this information. Masuma worked in 6 garment factories. She did not found any places for taking lunch in four garment factories and two factories had eating place/dinning place on the roofs where had not any furniture.

Masuma looks slim and also looks suffering from insufficient nutrition!!!
Same–same every garment workers----

Masuma told “Garment workers receive one hour to take lunch. Garment workers who live in long distance from their factories bring their lunch from their houses by lunch box or plastic pots. But garment workers who can go (on foot) to their houses within 15 minutes don’t want to curry their lunch. Because garment workers can take any poor dishes at their house like rice/stale rice with any vegetable mash or curry or stale food or anything what they have. But if they want to take they need something fresh or better items or they become shameful for poor foods to their colleagues.Garment workers walk very fast and they can go 1 kilo within 15 minutes. So, many garment workers can not take any rest for a while after taking lunch besides their speedy lunch. Garment workers who take lunch to the garment factories has to take lunch sitting on the stairs, balcony or standing on the moving places. They can not take lunch in their working spots.” She also told “garment workers don’t get supply of pure water. Garment workers collect water for drinking from the bathroom and some factories have basin. But is this water pure? But senior level officers have pure water facilities.” Masuma also told “garment workers often become sick. Usually they are affected by diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, gastric and other stomach problems etc. If garment workers suffer more days from sick, their salary has been cut and if they may be discharge from their job.” Masuma became sick three times in last few months and she mainly suffered from stomach problem. Mafia became sick two times in last two months and she had to take rest 20 days for being recovered from sick

Rain cannot stop their walking when garment workers go to their house to take lunch as their lunch period is very short. We can often see that garment workers are going to take lunch while raining.
Garments industry players are being billionaires by the help of these poor, industry workers. Will it be very difficult to supply pure water for these garment workers while they are being sick often taking direct supply water? Will it be more expensive to arrange canteen/mass system for taking in the garment factories? Garments authorities can discharge the garment workers easily and they also can collect garment workers easily because there are available unemployed workers in Bangladesh. Are they taking this scope? These garment workers are also keeping a great role on our national economy. So, why government can not take a role to save them while they are demanding ration card of daily necessary things as they can go on with their little income?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A life with dowry problem

First Published
Video edited by Tarun Falia

My name is Laizu and I am about 20 years old. I was born in Dhaka and my parents came to Dhaka before my birth from Gopalgonj village under Faridpur district. I am the eldest child of my parents. My father is a Rickshaw mechanic and mother is a housewife. We have only a house and homestead in the village. I have two younger sisters and one younger brother. My younger sister Mousumi (17) studied up to class-7 and recently she started to work in a garment factory. Another younger sister Rumee (13) is reading in class-7 and younger brother is reading in class-2.

The financial condition of our family is not good. My father somehow maintains our family. After studying up to class-9 I had to stop my study due to poverty. My father is only one earning member of our family. My father rented a room in a tin-shed building where we (six members) live in very congested.

Laizu with her child

I got married with a young boy named Manik aged 25. Manik used to work in a car garage. Their family was known to our family for last long years in Dhaka. Their home district is Comilla. His mother used to call my father as her elder brother. Both of our guardians were discussing about our marriage. But none of them took any final decision/step. In the meantime we made good relation. One day (January 2007) Manik told me that his father became very sick and he wanted to see me. Then Manik took me to one of his relative’s house and got married. Few days later we returned to our family. But Manik’s family did not take it easily. Her parents demanded 1, 20,000 taka as they were trying to send Manik abroad. Then Manik started to live with their family. In the meantime became pregnant. After being pregnant Manik started to behave with me very rough. We heard that Manik would go abroad but he did not tell me or us anything. One day he was not returning from his workplace. Later we heard that he left Bangladesh and went Saudi Arab. He did not communicate with me or us. My parents communicated with Manik’s family and started to solve the problem. After a long discussion Manik parents agreed to take her as their son’s wife instead of 70,000 taka as dowry. My father paid 40000 taka and in the time I gave birth to a female child and I became sick. My father had to spend about 25000 taka due to my sickness but none of my law’s family member came to see me or my daughter. Later they inform that they would not take me to their house before returning their son from abroad.

But my father gave them money selling our color television and freeze. They also took some loan from a local co-operative society. Still now they are paying installment to this co-operative society. My younger sister gave up her study and took a job in a garment factory due to poverty.

Laizu’s also said “My parents are very poor and they live in hand to mouth in very difficulties. I am living with my daughter and my baby also needs some extra expenditure that is increasing day by day. At present I am an extra burden to my parents. I can not want to my parents anything for child as they became poorer for my good luck. So I felt to earn some money. So when my baby was only two months I started to learn tailoring from Nari Jibon. Now I can make all kinds of baby’s dresses, various kinds of woman’s dresses and some kinds of male dresses. But I failed to buy a sewing machine. Sometimes I collect dress making order from my neighboring people and I make these dresses going to a neighboring woman who has a sewing machine and sometimes I make these dresses going to Nari Jibon office but everyone knows that this is my own dress. Thus I am earning some money but I get this scope for a while. I am trying to lend some money to buy a sewing machine and so I am going to some of relatives/known persons but I am failure.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Increasing child labors in Dhaka city/Bangladesh

Almost every month I go to wholesale fish market one or two times in a month that is situated Merul Badda. This wholesale fish market is 10 minutes walking distance from my residence. There are several reasons why I go to buy fish from this market. I can buy fresh fish in cheap prices than the retail kitchen market and I can not go to kitchen market everyday or every week. It also helps me to walk early in the morning. So I like to buy fish from this market.
Two years ago I saw few children used to come to this market. Some of them used to collect wasted fish or small fish that are fallen from the shop or dish. And that’s why they are called “Mas Chur” (thief of fish). Some of them used to help whole seller or retail fish businessmen and earned some money. But recently I am observing that more children are coming to work in this market and day by day their number is increasing.
One wholesale fish businessman informed that they number will be more than 100 hundred and rapidly their number is increasing.
I had also asked him why this number is increasing rapidly and he replied that you know that the living cost of Dhaka increasing rapidly day by day and recent high prices of food items make poor people more vulnerable. So every member of a poor family is trying hard to earn some money.

These children come to this market at about 5.00 am (one hour ago before sunrise) because business starts from 5.30 am to 8.00 am in the morning. During these periods they remain so busy that they have no scope to talk with me. One boy named Khokon about seven years informed that he comes before sunrise in this market. He helps wholesaler and retailer who come to buy fish. Retailer gives him 2 to 5 taka for bearing one basket fish (10 to 20 kg fish). He bears from wholesale shop to retailer spot that is out side of wholesale market near roadside and receive money. Thus he can earn 30 to 60 taka per day. He returns home at about 9.00 am in the morning. He went to school two years in a NGO school but at present he does not go to any school. He has been coming in this market for about last six months.

They are very busy to collect one trip. Two children were waiting to take this trip but one slight aged and (shishu mastan) muscle child took that trip avoiding other two children. They need one basket that's made of bamboo.

After slight raining and at the end of market time I have taken this picture. “Mama (maternal uncle) everyone call us ‘mas chur’(thief of fish) but we don’t steal any fish” said they children. Only three children studied two years to the school but now none of them go to school.

These three girls are searching small or wasted fish beside shops. They informed me that at the end of market time and collecting fish they would sell their collecting fish. Thus they can earn 10 taka to 20 taka per day. But often they are scolded by the fish businessmen and sometimes slight beaten.

There is also heavy competition among the tokai (street children). They also get up early in the morning (at the time of sunrise) and go out to collect wasted papers, packets, plastic bottles and other trashes from the street and dustbin. They can earn 100 to 200 taka per week collecting these. I saw these children in the street at about 6.30 when they were going to collect their goods.

This child is also trying to help her mothers to add slight more earning.

We can also observing that children are working as at railway station as Kuli (labor), small car workshops, factories and small tea shops. These numbers are also increasing but in this age they need to study. But they are struggling to live.