S H B Shuvro
When we think about the mischief or evil of our society, child abuse, child rape and child killing appear as inevitable issues. A growing number of such heinous crimes not only reveal our sheer negligence to address a savagely practice but also indicate our failure to protect our children from the evils of our society.
Over the last few years, incidents of violence towards children have seen a sharp rise and 2018 is considered as more terrible for children compared to 2017. According to a Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), between January and June 2018, a total of 2,033 children were reportedly subjected to different forms of violence. It said abuse, suicide, kidnapping, rape and murder of children were significantly higher in number this year compared to the same period of last year. According to BSAF, 477 children were victims of sexual abuse. Among them, 351 were raped in the first six months of 2018 which is about 15 per cent more than last year.
Such a scenario of child abuse and rampant violence against children in Bangladesh signify the degradation of our humanity and social values. Yet our motherland has not been able to ensure the basic human rights for all her children for a safe and sound growth. Though, recently we have observed a rise in the use of technology in various sectors like education, health, transport, infrastructural development, transportation system, and a media revolution in terms of human values and humanity, the degradation in our moral and social values, nevertheless, is evident.
We live in such an economic hierarchy where child abuse is indeed not a surprising phenomenon as almost half of the total Bangladeshi children live with poverty. Poverty has become a wall that separates children from their access to basic human rights. Reportedly in most cases, the child victims belong to poor families; therefore they cannot afford long process of court and justice. Thus, perpetrators easily escape the legal procedure. Considering this, legislators and lawmakers should implement special and necessary laws and provisions to ensure the legal punishment of the perpetrators. It is time to build a social security system to protect child rights.
We live in such a hierarchical social structure where families from middle class to rich class employ poor children as their domestic workers. However, being deprived of their basic rights poor children work as domestic helps at urban households. Every day we find children selling books, flowers on the road, we find them as transport helpers. In Bangladesh children also work in chemical factories and lathe machine. Such employments certainly lead to physical and mental abuse.
Recently, child marriage too has seen a sharp rise. What is more worrying is that the new child marriage law which was passed in 2016 allows child marriage under “Special Circumstances”. In this circumstance, there is a need for instilling a strong layer of consciousness in our society about child marriage. In order to do that media can play an important role by publishing and telecasting news and programmes. Also social institutions and educational institutions can play a big role in this regard.
It is time for all including policymakers, legislators, civil society members to step forward to safeguard the rights and safety of our children. It is envisaged that each and every child should get equal access to their basic human
rights and needs. We believe that each and every child is a wealth of our country.
Besides implementing laws and provisions and making policies, we also need to educate people about different forms of child abuse and child psychology. Primary school level textbooks should include essays to teach the children and their parents about child abuse. Certainly media can play a significant role in order to hinder child abuse because media have the power to develop an opinion among its viewers alongside constructing behaviour and psychology of interpretation.
It is sad but true that we find a plethora of news regarding child killing, child rape, child labour and child torture which are published and broadcast in different print and electronic media but we hardly find any programme or show which are made to create consciousness among mass people on child abuse.
Also social institutions like schools, mosques, offices, universities etc should integrate their concerted efforts to create consciousness among people against child abuse. We need more government fund and its honest utilization for the development of the rootless-street children who are usually being abused over their entire life.
S H B Shuvro is a member of the Editorial Team of Bangladesh Post