As many as 28 children are murdered and 49 raped in the country every month, according to a report by Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF). It observed that such incidents resulted from legal tangles delaying justice and a culture of impunity that encourages perpetrators to commit crimes.
In their annual report, “State of child rights in Bangladesh -2017,” the forum noted that three hundred and thirty nine children were killed and 593 raped in 2017, up by 28 percent and 33 percent respectively from the previous year. The report released yesterday at the Dhaka Reporters Unity had been prepared after analysing news articles published in 10 national dailies in the last year.
The report also showed that child abuse and child rights violation rose by 7.13 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year. On a positive note, the report stated that the number of children killed by parents decreased along with corporal punishment in schools and lynching of children on allegations of theft.
The Shishu Forum, a network of 269 non-government organisations working nationally to ensure child rights, expressed concern in their report about a special provision in the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2016. The provision allows marriage of children of any age under some circumstances.
Instead of discouraging early marriages, the provision may give rise to an increase in child marriages, thus creating an environment for sexual abuse and even murder of children, it said.
The government increased budget allocation for thirteen ministries that deal with children’s related issues, including other things, by Tk 10,000 crore to Tk 56,000 crore for the current fiscal year but this can only help improve the situation if the money is well spent, the Shishu Forum said.
Children, comprising more than 45 percent of the country’s population, will be the future leaders of the nation, said Emranul Huq Chowdhury, the chairman of BSAF. He added that the government should put more emphasis on addressing issues that stifle children’s physical and mental development.
To that end, he suggested forming a separate child directorate that will coordinate children-focused programmes run by different ministries and ensure their accountability.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque, who was present as the chief guest at the report launching event, lamented that rules had not yet been formulated under the Children Act 2013.
An outline had been proposed pertaining to the setting up of a child directorate and what its functions would be, he said. But no progress has been made in this regard. At least one representative should be there at thana level to whom people would talk about children-related issues facing them and seek solutions.