Dhaka: The Bangladesh government has pledged a policy that redefines a `child` as anyone below 18 and they would be kept out of the work force.
Some outlines of a national children policy were announced on May Day.
Bangladesh has a 3.2 million child work force as per 2003 statistics. Of them, 1.29 million children are involved in hazardous work, and the new policy would have direct impact upon them, The Daily Star said on Sunday.
International child rights bodies in the US and Europe have accused Bangladesh of employing child labour and have sought sanctions against imports of its goods.
The proposed policy would prohibit any physical punishment in educational institutions. It also aims at providing rights for ethnic, refugee, and disabled children.
In addition, the draft policy would require that every child born in Bangladesh be registered and given a right to claim the national identity.
"A human being below 18 will be given all the services that are meant for children," said advocate Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers` Association.
She added the policy change would be "a step towards human development".
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), which has prepared the draft policy, is now set to have a national-level consultation meeting in early May.
The ministry would then forward the draft to the cabinet for approval, officials said.
Approval of the policy would lead to review of different laws that define various ages of childhood.
Aminul Islam, a child protection specialist of UNICEF Bangladesh, observed the policy should indicate a time-bound working plan in this regard, devoid of which the policy would become vague on the issue of eradicating child labour.