Bangladesh tea workers: A legacy of neglect and servitude

Rights activists say workers on the country's many tea estates are victims of modern-day slavery
Bangladesh tea workers: A legacy of neglect and servitude

A worker at a tea estate in Srimangal in Bangladesh's Moulvibazar district. Despite a production boom, tea workers live a life of misery due to poor wages and denial of basic rights. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

It’s been nearly three decades and counting since Sabuj Tanti started working as a laborer at Khadim Tea Estate in the Sylhet district of northeast Bangladesh.

“This is our ancestral profession and we have no vocational skills. That’s why we have been stuck here for more than 150 years,” he told UCA News.

Sabuj, 43, a lower-caste Hindu from the Tanti community, is the fifth generation of tea workers from his family. Yet this father of four daughters wants all his children to get out of the tea estate. Three of his daughters, except the youngest of two-and-half years-old, go to school.

“I don’t want my daughters to become tea workers like me. I want them to get an education and have a better life. I didn’t have the opportunity to get an education, so I have been stuck in the tea estate forever,” he said.

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