Church & Society

Bangladesh tea workers: A legacy of neglect and discrimination August 22, 2019

Tea has been a major domestic and international trade product in Bangladesh since 1854 when British colonialists started commercial tea plantations.

Its 161 tea estates are mostly located in four districts of Sylhet Division in the northeast.

Tea workers are not native Bengali people but mostly lower-caste Hindus and indigenous people from India taken to Bangladesh by British colonial masters.

The 1947 British partition of India and Pakistan cut them off from their roots and made them stateless. Tea workers obtained citizenship after Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971. 

Tea workers remain one of the most marginalized, exploited and discriminated communities in Bangladesh.

Photos by Stephan Uttom and Rock Ronald Rozario

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