'Poor implementation of laws and reluctance on the part of law enforcement officials is leading to the continuing sexual exploitation of children'
Although the government has taken several measures to ensure child rights in recent years, improper implementation of existing laws and policies is leading to the continuing commercial sexual exploitation of children, rights activists have said.
The comment was made at program titled “Access to Justice for Children Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation,” held concurrently with the closing workshop of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CCSEC) Project in Bangladesh, at the Brac Centre Inn in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Terre des Hommes (TDH) Netherlands has been implementing the CCSEC Project in Dhaka and Tangail in collaboration with three local organizations over the last three-and-a-half years.
Addressing the program, Supreme Court Advocate Tajul Islam said: “Poor implementation of laws and reluctance on the part of law enforcement officials is leading to the continuing sexual exploitation of children.
He added that the framework of investigation is not followed at any level - by law enforcement officials, witness protection, or medical examiners - leading to problems during trials.
Aparajeyo Bangladesh Project team leader Humayun Kabir said evidence of investigating officials delaying reports to help culprits gain favourable settlements had been found while assisting 450 children with trials.
Bangladesh Country Director for TDH Netherlands Mahmudul Kabir said 1,010 childred, including 870 in Dhaka and 140 in Tangail, had benefitted from the CCSEC Project. Those in Dhaka were primarily street children, while those in Tangail were the children of sex workers. Among them, 320 children received psychosocial counselling in 468 sessions.
About 70% of the children who received counselling services had returned to normal state of mind. Of the remaining 30%, 40% are suffering from mild to moderate trauma, and 30% are categorized as severely traumatized, he added.
In Dhaka, 466 children (238 girls and 228 boys) received basic literacy. Among them, 14 children are enrolled in mainstream primary schools. In Tangail, 112 children (59 girls and 53 boys) are attending local primary or secondary schools and colleges. Around 85 % of the children completed the PEC and JSC exams, and the majority of them earned A or B grades in Tangail.
“Re-integration was a serious problem for the children of sex workers in Tangail. Before the program, we saw that these children were denied entry into mainstream education. But now, what we are observing is that local children are coming to study in the same schools where these children are studying,” Kabir said.
Chief guest at the program Aroma Dutta, MP and co-chair of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, said the government has taken various initiatives to ensure that no children will have to live on the streets by 2025.
Governance Delegation of the European Union in Bangladesh team leader Audrey Maillot, and Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Additional Secretary Moinul Kabir also attended the program, as Special Guests.