Collage of unimaginable shades of musty yellow, hues of grey, black and sallow brown. A lone low watt electric bulb makes a tiny halo of illumination that hardly reaches the floor. At regular intervals constant whirring and deafening clanging ring throughout the place. At first glance one would not be able to distinguish the various objects from the humans. Was there truly any sign of life here? Where? On a closer inspection one would perceive tiny movements, an escaped sign, a sudden shimmer and that was all the sign of life one would get in the confined space of the congested room. Everything seems to have merged here— the walls, the machines and the young human beings. Who were these living elements? And where was this indiscernible confinement?
This was no medieval underground dungeon or mine where humans meet untimely deaths. This was a 21st Century urban factory many of whose employees are under 15 years of age. Mostly ‘bread earners’ of their families these children categorized as ‘child labourers’ are part of the 246 million child workers worldwide (6.6 million in Bangladesh) who are exploited physically, mentally, morally and deprived of education and natural development (ILO/2006).
Banished to an existence in the fathomless maze of a monochromatic world of grime, filth, hardships and excruciatingly hazardous labour their shackled childhood only leads to unrecognized early deaths, diseases and lost dreams.