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Police in Bangladesh have arrested a textile-mill supervisor for allegedly torturing a 9-year-old worker to death over the weekend. The boy, Sagar Barman, had been working alongside his parents at the mill for seven months, according to the New York Times. His family have accused Nazmul Huda, an assistant administrative officer at the Zobeda Textile Mill, and seven others of killing Sagar by pumping air from a compressor machine into his rectum. Sagar’s father, Ratan Barman, said he and his son arrived at work at 6 a.m. on Sunday. At noon, a female colleague informed him that Sagar was lying on the floor. The boy was unable to speak and his abdomen was swollen, Barman said. Sagar was transported to a neighboring hospital, then later to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.
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In a police complaint he later filed, Barman said that the accused and other linemen and supervisors not only verbally abused him and his son but they also physically punished them for “small mistakes” in their work. The Times wrote that Barman said his son was killed for protesting the treatment.
The complaint further charged Mozammel Haque Bhuiyan, Mazharul Islam Bhuiyan, Azharul Haque Bhuiyan, and Zafar Hossain Bhuiyan, Zobeda Textile Mill’s owners, of using child labor. According to Bangladesh labor laws, the legal minimum age for employment is 14.
UNICEF notes, however, that because as much as 93 percent of children work informally in small factories and workshops, on the street, in home-based businesses, or in domestic situations, regulatory enforcement is “virtually impossible.”
Zobeda Textile Mill employs about 3,000 workers, about 10 percent of whom are children. Sagar had earned 3,100 taka—roughly $40—a month.
Ismail Hossain, the officer in charge of the Rupganj police station in Narayanganj District in central Bangladesh, told the Times that the children were not recruited but employed by the factory’s management as a “humanitarian” gesture so that “they can earn some money for their family.”
The Guardian reported that hours after the arrest, police raided the mill and rescued 27 child workers, many younger than 14.
Nothing about this story is okay. We are not okay.