Child horse jockeys providing entertainment to Patenga beach tourists
By Maloy Kumar Dutta
DHAKA, Aug 10, 2018 (BSS) – Somebody came there singly, somebody with their spouse, some with friends and some were with their families.
Although they are from different places, but the aim is common-to enjoy the beauty of sea beach and sea waves at Patenga in Chattogram in the last week of June.
Of them, children were the most blissful visitors as their joy is unbounded.
Sometimes children were running on the sand on barefoot, sometimes there were trying to touch the wave, sometimes they were glancing at red sky on the eve of sunset.
Parents and other family members of the children were also joyous to see such happiness of their kids. But there were some other children on the beach whose stories are different.
The beautiful beach, sea waves and sunset do not make any difference to them, rather they have come here for earning livelihood.
Around a dozen of children at Patenga sea beach are being used as horse jockey.
They entertain people in different ways. Sometimes they arrange horse races, sometimes they pick children on the back of horses and sometimes they make different games with horses.
Anyone will surely be astonished to see that how a little boy efficiently controls a horse. But the answer is that practice makes a person perfect.
“I’ve been doing this for more than last five years. At the beginning I could do nothing. But now I can do everything with the horse. It (horse) now always acts as per my direction,” said Rafi Hossain.
Just after completing the sentence, Rafi started different activities with the horse to prove his skills to the correspondent.
Hailing from Feni, Rafi is the fourth children of his parents. Two of his brothers and a sister are married off and they are now separated from the family.
Now, Rafi lives with his elderly father and mother in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) area.
While talking to Rafi, some other children working as horse jockey gathered there and were eagerly listening to the conversation.
Although they are efficient to control the horses, none of them could complete primary education.
“I have studied up to class four at a primary school at my village home and then came to Patenga with one of my relatives around 3 years back,” said 13-year-old Ruhul Amin, who hails from Banshkhali of Chattogram.
No matter up to how many classes the children studied, the children are highly calculative in measuring time, cost and benefit.
“We charge Tk 500 for each person to ride on horse’s back for every 10 minutes. If anybody wants to ride for more times, the person must pay more,” said Sarwar Hossain, another boy aged around 12.
Poverty forced them to be engaged in such kind of odd job leaving out study.
“My father is a rickshaw puller and my mother is sick. It is difficult to earn livelihood and buy medicines for mother with the sole earning of my father. That’s why, I’ve to earn money to help my family,” said Sarwar, who lives in a Chattogram slum.
Ruhul Amin’s father had left his mother and married another woman around four years back. From that time, he had to work for running the family, while his mother works as a domestic help.
Child labour is rampant in different forms in Bangladesh, though the existing laws strictly prohibit engaging children in any types of formal or informal works.
The grim truth is that a total of 1.7 million children are involved in child labour in Bangladesh. At the same time, despite the list, even today around 1.2 million children are employed in hazardous work, according to media reports.
Bangladesh is one of the earliest signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and has expressed its commitment to ensuring the rights of children in international forums.
Proper enforcement of laws and public awareness is the key components to combat child labour in Bangladesh, think child rights activists.