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Discriminatory provisions hinder development of marginalized people: Rizvi

DHAKA, Aug 23, 2016 (BSS) - Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi yesterday stressed revision of laws relating to labour workers saying discriminatory provisions in them appeared to be hindering development of marginalized people.

"It is clear that there are problems in our existing laws as those do not address the issues of marginalized people in many cases," Rizvi told a national workshop titled "Exclusion and Marginal Challenges in Bangladesh" at LGED auditorium in Agargaon area.

Citing an example, he said the low-income teagarden workers were compelled to vacate their abode on their retirement after lifetime services to be exposed to a state of homelessness having no permanent address.

Rizvi, a governance expert by background by being a former faculty of reputed US university of Harvard and Oxford in Britain, urged the independent research groups and NGOs dealing with rights issues to prepare a compact report or memorandum identifying the remaining issues of marginalized people or excluded groups for government consideration.

He underscored the need for creating a permanent forum where the marginal and excluded groups could themselves speak out about their special needs and rights.

Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD), Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh (CCDB) and Gram Bikash Kendra (GBK) jointly organized the workshop with a slogan "Living No One Behind" to focus marginalization and exclusion that haunt a wide range of ethnic minorities, particularly from the plains land and other excluded groups.

Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) Executive Chairman sociologist Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman presented the keynote paper at the workshop saying the excluded and marginalized groups were not limited to only hill tracts rather many numerically small sub-groups having no larger collective identity.

"Tea workers and Khasia in north east, Santals in central and north Jaladas in south-east, Bede along major rivers, sweepers in cities Koira, Rishij in central and south-west regions of the country and many others are also among the excluded and marginalized groups," he added.

"These marginalized community are statistically invisible . . . they have to be made visible," he said.

The general scenario suggests that the tea workers do not have any land or house of their own and after retirement s they are supposed to leave the labour line while the garden owners take advantage of this weakness and compel their offspring to be engaged in the profession o their ancestors.

Zillur Rahman pointed out issues of several other marginalized groups who are exposed to social and economical discrimination and identified them as Santals, Khasis and tea workers, sex workers and sweepers and Biharis.

He said ethnic group Santals living in Madhupur and tea workers and Khasis in Sylhet region are facing eviction threats from traditional homesteads and they are not represented in the safety-net programme.

Tea workers and Biharis who passed competitive examinations are being debarred from employment due to lack of permanent address.

Addressing as special guest, eminent economist Prof Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud said if a group of people is deprived of to their caste, creed and profession, it is a big deprivation.

"Different marginal and excluded groups like Jaladas, Bede, sweepers (mathors), Santals and tea workers, Koira, Rishij are deprived of their different needs," he said.

Mahmud stressed taking comprehensive initiatives to find out their problems and barriers to ensure their all needs to make sure that no one living behind and thus achieve the sustainable development goals.

Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB) Vice-Chairperson Dr Hameeda Hossain, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) Managing Director Md Abdul Karim addressed the workshop as special guests with SHED Chairman Professor Sakhawat Ali Khan was in the chair.

Writer Dr Harisankar Jaladas, Bangladesh Cha Sramik Union general secretary Rambhajan Kairi, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics official Dr Dipankar Roy joined the function as speakers.

SEHD Director Philip Gain dilvered the welcome address while representative of Sex-Worker Hajera Begum, Bede Representative Soudh Khan, Bihari representative Shawkat Ali spoke on their problems.

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