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Ismail Ferdous June 16, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh.
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Rana Plaza garment factory aftermath, Dhaka, Bangladesh 2013

Ismail Ferdous (b.1989, Bangladesh) graduated with a degree in business from East West University in Dhaka. He was selected for the Award of Excellence with the Alexia Foundation/ student category in 2012 and attended the Eddie Adams Photojournalism Workshop in 2013. His photographs have been published in: The New Yorker Magazine, National Geographic- Germany, The Washington Post, TIME Magazine Lightbox, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today among others. Recent group exhibitions of his work include: 25 CPW Gallery in New York, The World Bank, Washington DC, and UNICEF in Rio de Janerio. Ismail is currently freelancing for the Associated Press based in Dhaka.

About the Photograph:

“I took this picture 20 days after the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka. I had been covering the event and aftermath for nearly three weeks, but it was a very unusual moment for me when I saw tears rolling down the cheeks of a Bangladeshi army soldier while praying for the 1,134 people who died in the garment building collapse. I had seen thousands of people crying around me over the past weeks but in that moment nobody could hold in their emotion and pain, for this was the last day (14 May 2013) of the painstaking search for bodies among the rubble in the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry.”

“Photographing the Rana Plaza collapse was the most traumatic event I have ever experienced. Smelling dead bodies every morning felt like being in a war zone. It haunts me to this day. I covered the rescue mission for 15 hours a day. A few months after the collapse when I went through my images it gave me an emotional breakdown. It took me awhile to process but eventually I channeled my trauma to the strength of this issue and I wanted to make the public aware of this global issue with my Cost of Fashion project.”


 

Patrick Brown December 12, 2013

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Bhola, Bangladesh 2012

Patrick Brown (b.1966, England) spent a nomadic childhood living in the Middle East, Canada and Africa before his family finally settled in Perth, Western Australia. Patrick relocated to Asia in 1999 and has since made Thailand his base. He is the recipient of the 3P Photographer Award, World Press Award, Days Japan Award, Picture Of The Year Award, New York Photographic Book Award and NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism Award. His work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, and Visa pour l’Image in France. His recently published book Trading to Extinction is about the devastating impact of wildlife trafficking in Asia. Patrick is represented by Panos Pictures.

About the Photograph:

“Freak weather patterns are only part of the reason for floods becoming an ever-greater menace. Deforestation, dam building upstream, the building of cities on floodplains and the poor maintenance of flood levies have all contributed to the havoc wreaked by rising waters. I planned a week documenting the island of Bhola, Bangladesh’s largest offshore island territory on a personal project, to see how locals were dealing with the ever-present threat of rising waters. However I was only able to get one day shooting in before falling seriously ill, losing more than 4 kg in 2 days.”

“Putting all that aside this is nothing compared with what happened in 1995, when half of Bhola Island, became permanently flooded, leaving 500,000 people, mainly farmers, to become the world’s first climate refugees. Scientists predict Bangladesh will lose 17 percent of its land by 2050 due to flooding caused by climate change. The loss of land could lead to as many as 20 million climate refugees from Bangladesh. This isn’t just a developing world problem. Louisiana loses about 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) to the sea every year. Most land is eroding near the Mississippi Delta.”

Allison Joyce September 21, 2012

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From the series Tiger Widow. Harinagar, Bangladesh 2010

Allison Joyce (b. 1987, United States) is a photojournalist currently based in New York City. At 19 she left school at Pratt Institute and moved to Iowa to cover the 2008 Presidential Race where she worked as a campaign photographer for Hillary Clinton. The experience inspired her travels around the world covering social issues like climate change, health, and the sex trade in countries such as Bangladesh, Haiti, India, and the Dominican Republic. As a regular contributor to Reuters and Getty Images her work has appeared worldwide, including: The New York Times, National Geographic, Mother Jones, Virginia Quarterly Review, TIME, Paris Match and Newsweek.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is part of an ongoing project about climate change in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. The Sundarbans forest in southern Bangladesh is the largest mangrove forest in the world. It has green Sundari trees, rivers, numerous species of birds, deer, crocodiles, snakes, and most famously, the Royal Bengal tiger. Spread across 9,583sq km in the Ganges delta, the Sundarbans is home to 440 tigers, and about 50 to 60 thousand people who depend on land, rivers and forest for their living. As climate changes, hurricanes and cyclones continue to affect the area, the fresh water that once irrigated farmers’ fields has turned salty, rendering the fields useless. A growing number of farmers in Bangladesh’s southern Sundarbans region have now been driven out of their fields and into the region’s mangrove forests to hunt for honey, fish, or to collect crabs, putting them at great risk for a tiger attack. The number of people killed by tiger attacks in the region is steadily rising. In almost every village there is a woman or man, commonly referred to as a “Tiger Widow”, whose spouse has been a victim of a tiger attack. The men usually re-marry within a few months, but the women do not. As most women are wed when they are still children (usually between the age of 9-14) they have virtually no skills outside the home, and end up living a life of poverty, barely able to support their children.”

“Figoja Begum’s husband, Mujiber Rahaman, was killed by a tiger. One afternoon he went honey hunting with four other people. As soon as they found the honey comb a tiger jumped him from behind and he died on the spot. The other men ran to the boat as the tiger was dragging the body away. When Firoja heard the news she fell to the floor crying and lost her mind with grief. Since the attack she is aloof and refuses to talk to anyone about what happened. Her neighbors say that she is half mad. The Sundarbans forest officials have documented more than 1,000 women who have lost their husbands in tiger attacks. Humans and tigers are now fighting for space.”

Amy Helene Johansson August 17, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh, Multimedia.
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Editor’s Note: When the Bombay Flying Club teamed up with Amy Helene Johansson to produce a video about the Garment Workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh I knew that it would be worth seeing. They consistently produce outstanding work, and so included here is an overview from Poul Madsen about their collaborative process. It is effective the way the video opens in the shopping district of Stockholm and then cuts to the girls walking along the railroad tracks on their way to work in the sewing factories. A Lost Revolution? is an excellent example of the power of multimedia storytelling.

Amy Helene Johansson (b. 1973, Sweden) studied film and theater theory before earning a BA in fashion design.  In 2006 she moved to Bangladesh to work for a multinational fashion company, and her interest for photography grew rapidly.  Amy’s work has been published in leading broadsheets and magazines in the UK and Sweden, including the Sunday Times UK, Dagens Nyheter and Sydsvenska Dagbladet. Her work has been awarded Asian Geographic Magazine ‘Faces of Asia Award’, the Foundry Emerging Photojournalist Award and the Swedish Picture Of the Year ‘Multimedia Category’ and been shortlisted for ELLE commission award and a National Geographic award. Her work has been displayed in solo and collaborative exhibitions in Bangladesh, the Czech Republic, Sweden and the UAE, as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London, UK. Amy is currently based in Sweden.

About the Project:

“For this project I had the opportunity to spend three months in the slums of Dhaka where the garment workers live, together with a researcher from the Swedish organization Swedwatch. Two women Shapla and Mahfuza bravely agreed  to share their stories for the film. After four years in the fashion industry in Bangladesh I thought I had a good picture of the situation, I saw factories improving day by day, and felt the situation was getting better. I did not realize just how far behind the situation was for these women when they leave the factory. The media and companies have been focusing on the factories but the real life of the workers has not been highlighted. I was appalled to see the situation.

“Filming in these areas in monsoon rain was among the most challenging work I have done, and I will never forget the women I met and who still are there. I particularly remember a woman, Popy, telling me she has to lock her son in a room during the days while she works and her fear that if a fire would break out he could get burned alive.”

Comments from Poul Madsen, producer at Bombay Flying Club on the process of making “A Lost Revolution?”

“Amy approached us in early spring 2011 about her project in Bangladesh and we decided to collaborate with her on the story. We knew Amy beforehand as she had been one of our workshop participants at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in the Fall of of 2010. For about three months we Skyped and corresponded about her project. Amy would call me up when she had found new possible characters or when she had visited the various slums of Dhaka. Basically I tried to coach her during the entire process and I also provide technical advice along the way. We were looking for characters who would have strong personal stories and who would fit some of the criteria s and keywords that had been setup for the project. Themes and concepts such access to sanitation, domestic violence, family and children.

“In August 2011 we met for a week in Denmark. The idea was basically to storyboard the story, come up with a script and do a rough edit. She brought us complete interview transcripts from the two characters she had selected along with a storyboard idea and a hard drive containing all her raw material. We spent a whole day going through the interviews, sorting quotes out and editing the storyboard. We used a scissor, some tape and a whiteboard for this. Then we started to throw stuff down on the timeline. Gradually the story took shape. After a week we had a complete rough and Amy brought it back to the Swedwatch headquarters in Stockholm. After a few months they decided to re-edit a few things and to use another speaker for the story. Our job was basically to coach Amy, help her set up a storyboard and cut a complete rough edit.”

Stijn Pieters April 20, 2011

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Krisnomony Char, Northern Bangladesh 2009

Stijn Pieters (1976, Belgium) is a self taught photographer based in Gent, Belgium. To date Stijn has completed projects in Nepal, Kashmir, Palestine, Northern Ireland, Swaziland, Yemen, Morocco, Iran, Vietnam, The Philippines, India and Bangladesh. These projects examine diverse issues, from HIV/AIDS in Swaziland to gun culture in Yemen and agent orange victims in Vietnam. For his work in Yemen and Morocco Stijn received grants from the Pascal Decroos Foundation and the King Baudouin Foundation. His work has been published in Belgian magazines like MO*, Vrede, Menzo, Tertio, Vacature, Varen and Isel Magazine. In 2009, Stijn was awarded the third prize of the ‘Photopress Prize Flanders’ for his work on acid violence in Bangladesh.

About the Photograph:

“The photo is part of a story I made in 2009 about the Friendship Hospital, an NGO working on the Jamuna river (Brahmaputra) in northern Bangladesh. Friendship provides medical care on a floating hospital and emergency relief during flooding to the isolated communities on the chars, tiny low-lying sandy islands on the mighty river. More then five million inhabitants of the chars live on the frontline of climate change. Melting glaciers and deforestation in the Himalayas lead to frequent and intensive flooding during the monsoon season and pose a serious threat to the char dwellers. River erosion and flooding forces thousands of families to move from one char to another every year. The char dwellers nomadic lifestyle continues because they are very poor and cannot afford to live on the mainland. On the chars the people survive and don’t pay rent or taxes.”

Editors Note: I had the pleasure of traveling with Stijn in Bangladesh on a few occasions over several months. While most of us were shooting digital he stubbornly :) left his DSLR in the bag and only shot with his trusted Leica M-6. He had his film processed in Dhaka and after returning to Europe scanned his negatives. I respect him for the extra effort he puts into his work.

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Eivind H. Natvig July 12, 2010

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Bhola, Bangladesh 2009

Eivind H. Natvig (b. 1978, Norway) graduated with a degree in photojournalism from Oslo University College in 2005. Has has since done assignments for a wide range of national and international publications and received the Norwegian Picture of the Year award. From 2006 Eivind have divided his time between assignments in Norway and an in-depth projects in South Asia financed by a grant from The Freedom of Expression Foundation and Karina Jensens Minnefond. His work has been published in Le Monde, Liberation, MSNBC and Time magazine. He is represented by Moment Agency.

About the Photograph:

“The sun was about to set on the north shore of Bhola on one of the ghats (river banks) near the mainland. This man sat patiently working on his fishing net as life passed by. In some ways he symbolizes the Bangladeshis trapped in a tightening fishing net as the rivers and sea they both depend on eat away the land they call home. Situated by the mouth of Ganges, at the Bay of Bengal the Island of Bhola has been referred to as the ground zero of climate change. Half the island has disappeared in the past forty years, and according to scientists the pace is not going to slow down. People pack up and leave as the water get closer. Some to a nearby embankment, while those with enough money move further inland, but for most life moves on until the inevitable. It’s always about survival for the people in one of the worlds poorest countries.”

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Editor’s Note- Bangladesh August 14, 2009

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Kurigram, Northern Bangladesh 2008

Geoffrey Hiller: I am taking a couple weeks off and will resume posting on Sept 2nd. During the past eighteen months Verve Photo has showcased the work of close to 300 photographers. In addition to being a source of inspiration, it’s become a resource for photo editors and creative directors in the publishing industry.  Many photographers have sold work or received assignments as a result of being featured on this site. The original concept of Verve Photo has evolved, in that first we presented young photographers who had relocated to foreign countries and were doing photo-journalistic work. Over time I expanded the concept of ‘documentary’ to include more personal images. Finally, ‘new breed’ in the context of this site not only denotes youth but originality and depth.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is part of my new dedicated web site called The Bangladesh Project. Bangladesh is a photographer’s paradise; people actually thank you for taking their photo. Despite the many ills facing the country, poverty, floods, and political corruption, there is a tremendous amount of tenacity and resilience. I lived in Bangladesh for nine months, which gave me the opportunity to become well-acquainted with the pulse of the place. I remember walking the busy streets of the Kurigram one morning. It’s in northern Bangladesh, one of the poorest parts of the country, where people are facing severe food scarcity called ‘Monga’.  I had noticed the horse and the boy, so I decided to plant myself there. The man with the sack went by, and it seemed like more than a well-choreographed event, or a random moment. It was an act of providence.”

Shehzad Noorani May 22, 2009

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From the series “Children of Black Dust”, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Shehzad Noorani (b. 1966, Bangladesh) has a deep interest in social issues that affects the lives of millions of people in developing countries. He has covered major stories resulting from man-made and natural disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Other assignments for agencies like UNICEF have taken him to over 30 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His personal in-depth documentary work has been extensively exhibited and featured in major international magazines and publications around the world. Daughters of Darkness, his in-depth documentary on the lives of commercial sex workers in South Asia has received the Mother Jones International Award for Documentary Photographer. He has also received an honorable mention from the National Geographic’s All Roads Photography Program for his project : The Children of Black Dust.

About the Photograph:

“A woman holds her child, blackened by carbon dust. His nose bleeds due to infections caused by exposure to dust and pollution during play in the workshop in Korar Ghat by on the outskirts of Dhaka. Many women bring their children along so they can look after them while working. The environment in and around the workshop is full of carbon dust and other waste. Most children have chest and eyes infection. The industry employs thousands of women and children. All day long women and children break used batteries to get reusable parts and tiny pieces of metal out of them. Once separated, these materials are sent to battery manufacturing factories and workshops that either reuse them or melt them to make other useful materials.” (more…)

Khaled Hasan February 2, 2009

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Shapna (age 13) works as a stone collector. Jaflong, Bangladesh

Khaled Hasan (b.1981, Bangladesh) received his master’s degree in Accounting from the National University of Bangladesh. He graduated from Pathshala (South Asian Institute of Photography) in 2008 and has worked for The Daily Shomokal and Majority World photo agency. He won the 2008 All Roads Photography Program of National Geographic Society for his Documentary Project “Living Stone”. He believes that it is essential for the photographer to create communication and trust with his subjects. “Photography has the visual power to educate by allowing us to enter the lives and experiences of others.” His current projects include Jihad: Fighter of Disability and Leather Workers of Bangladesh.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is from a project about the stone workers of Jaflong in the northeastern part of Bangladesh. The Piyain River in  flows from India through Bangladesh. During the monsoon, the river currents wash down precious rocks and pebbles from India into Jaflong area. At dawn every day, more than a hundred little boats with laborers enter the Piyain River, buckets and spades in hand. This is one trade which has a geological limit. The stones that tumble down the riverbed from India are decreasing in volume and the laborers are already taking the risk by invading the no-man’s land along the Indo-Bangla border which is considered a sensitive area. More than two thousand men, women and child stone-laborers are engaged here. Utilization of modern machinery like cranes has taken over the use of primitive tools and many children have been suffering from hearing problems due to the high-pitched sounds of the equipment. As many as 250 machines are engaged in crushing stones at Jaflong. The farmers there can no longer produce crops  because of the dust from the crushed stones.”

Editors Note: Chobi Mela (Picture Festival), an international photography festival  with over sixty exhibitions from thirty-five countries, has opened in Dhaka this weekend. More details at  Banglaphoto, the other blog I maintain from Bangladesh.

Andrew Biraj October 1, 2008

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People Power At Phullbari, Bangladesh

Andrew Biraj (b.1982, Bangladesh) completed a his studies in photography from Pathshala in 1999, working with a local weekly magazine, before traveling through Bangladesh to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. He has completed stories in the UK, Cambodia, Myanmar and Bangladesh, including his on going project ‘State Excluded’, a photo essay about the stranded Bihari community in Bangladesh. In 2004 he obtained a full scholarship from the University of Bolton, UK to finish his B.A in Photography. He has been selected for the World Press Photo  Masterclass in 2008. He won 1st Prize in the “Environmental Picture Story” category of “Best of Photojournalism” by NPPA; 2008. His  work have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Observer Magazine, Saudi Aramaco World,  and Forum Magazine of The Daily Star.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is from a project about the protests against a proposed open-pit coal mine in Phullbari,  in the North-West district of Bangladesh. Hundreds of housewives from mostly conservative Muslim families came out to the streets with their infant children and whatever household utensils they could find to protest  against granting a coal mining project to the UK based Asia Energy Corporation.”

Editors note: I’m currently based in Bangladesh and will be featuring more photographers from the region. There are a tremendous amount of talented photographers here in Dhaka. Check out my other blog called “Photographs and Notes from Bangladesh” .

Blogging from Bangladesh August 5, 2008

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Bangladesh, Blog Info.
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From the series “Heros Never Die” by Saiful Huq

Beginning next week I’ll be posting from Dhaka. I’ll be there for five months teaching multimedia at the Independent University of Bangladesh and working on new projects. Bangladesh has over 150 million people and is about as far from Portland, Oregon as one can get. It has an dynamic photography community and will be hosting the Chobi Mela Photo Festival this January. Newsha Tavakolian, a wonderful Iranian photographer introduced me to Saiful, both of whose work I’ll be featuring in the near future.

About the Photograph:

Saiful Huq is a young Bangladeshi photographer who graduated from the Pathshala School of Photography in Dhaka. This photograph is from his series “Heros Never Die: Tales of Political Violence in Bangladesh, 1989- 2005.” Sheik Abdul Wadud was praying in a mosque when a grenade attack took his right leg and a portion of his right hand in 1999. Nine people died and numerous other people were injured.

“August is not the month of winter. Winter was yet to come. Winter would come. I would wrap myself with my dark brown shawl, I would travel on a richshaw and with a single step I would arrive at Tongi bridge. Standing on the bridge I would bend down towards the Turag river and shout out loud and listen to how far the echo reaches…This time I would go to the sea and stand on the mountain and touch the clouds. Could tears come to my eyes for once? The whole country shattered into pieces. Bombs exploded in 63 districts at once. Two people died and more then 100 were injured. That wasn’t enough, more was on the way. None of us was stupid enough to not understand this. The winter deserted me taking it’s entire aroma with it. Ah! intense winter of my youth! I had to wrap it away for an unknown future, shoulder my camera and leave my house. The whole country was my destination.”

Abir Abdullah July 29, 2008

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Cyclone Survivors, Bangladesh 2007

Abir Abdullah (b.1971, Bangladesh) began his photography career in 1996 at Drik Picture Library in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is currently working with the European Press Photo Agency as a Bangladesh correspondent. His photographs have been published in Time, Newsweek, Der Speigel, New Internationalist, The Guardian, International Herald Tribune, Asiaweek, Stern and Geo. Abir won the Mother Jones award for his documentary project about the War Veterans of Bangladesh in 2001.

About the Photograph:

Bangladeshi people who lived beside the sea move towards safe shelter before cyclone Sidr hits at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh in November 2007. The cyclone crossed the coastal areas causing strong wind, pounding rain and tidal waves. Disaster shelters on stilts housing refugees plus early warning systems and timely evacuations appear to have greatly reduced the fatalities from Sidr. The cyclone killed over 3,000 people and left  over 20,000 homeless but was much less than the 140,000 that died in 1991.

Munem Wasif June 18, 2008

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Holi Festival, from the series “Old Dhaka: Belonging”

Munem Wasif (Bangladesh, b. 1983) graduated from Pathshala- The South Asian Institute of Photography in Dhaka. He began his career as a feature photographer for the Daily Star, a leading English daily of Bangladesh. After that, he worked two years with Drik international news photo agency as a staff photographer. He is represented by Agency VU in Paris. In 2007, he was selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in the Netherlands. He won an “Honorable Mention” in the All Roads Photography Program by the National Geographic Society for his extensive work on Old Dhaka. His work is exhibited worldwide including the Angor Wat Photo Festival in Cambodia, International Photography Biennial of the Islamic World in Iran, Fotofreo- festival of photography in Australia, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan and Getty image gallery in England.

About the Photograph:

Wasif’s introduction from the Old Dhala series: “A sense of belonging to the people, the place, the innocuous values of small town life -the closeness of it all- came bundled with the person that was to start a new journey in the city. The days of nameless acquaintance was fixated with forgetfulness. Homesick for my mother and sister, the nights were crossed with bouts of restlessness. To make the best out of such a turbulent time, my uncle admitted me to a photography course. While the medium had not appeared in any formal mode before, growing up in a visually explosive country with riots of colors all around, it instantly grabbed my attention…days of frenzied fermentation of variant frames were followed by equally fantastic nights of soul searching within those newly discovered worlds.”

GMB Akash May 19, 2008

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Child Labor. Bangladesh

“Today, I count myself blessed, having become a photographer. To be able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless, to bring their identity to the forefront, gives meaning and purpose to my own life”. So begins the introduction to Akash’s website.

Akash’s passion for photography began in 1996. He graduated with a BA in Photojournalism from Pathshala school of photography in Dhaka. In 2002 he became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Master Class in the Netherlands. In 2005 he was awarded Best of Show at the Center for Fine Art Photography’s international competition in Colorado, USA. In 2006 he was awarded World Press Photo award and released his first book “First Light”. His publication credits include Time, Newsweek, Geo, Stern, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, PDN, Marie Claire,The Economist, Asia News,The Sunday Telegraph of London and others.

About the Photograph:

Child labor is not a new issue in Bangladesh as children here remain one of the most vulnerable groups living under threats of hunger, illiteracy, displacement, exploitation, trafficking, physical and mental abuse. Although the issue of child labor has always been discussed, there is hardly any remarkable progress even in terms of mitigation. 17.5 percent of children aged 5-15 are engaged in economic activities. Many of these children are engaged in various hazardous occupations in factories. Owners prefer to employ children as they could pay them less and also able to keep their factories free from trade unionism. A child laborer gets 400 to 700 Taka ( 1 USD = 70 taka) per month, while an adult worker earns up to 5000 per month.

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