The child rights organization unveiled the report at the opening meeting of the newly formed Parliamentary Caucus for Child Rights
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) has said at least 346 children have been subjected to rape, including 38 gang rapes, between January 1 and May 14.
Of the 346 children, 22 have physical disabilities, 18 were killed after being raped, and 10 committed suicide, according to a new report by BSAF. One of the rape survivors was only two-and-a-half years old.
The child rights organization unveiled the report at the opening meeting of the newly formed Parliamentary Caucus for Child Rights, held at the IPD Conference Hall of the parliament on Wednesday.
The report said 156 children were either abducted or went missing over the period, and 15 of the abducted were later found dead. Additionally, around 10 children were killed by their own parents.
The report, presented by BSAF Director Abdus Shahid Mahmood, says incidences of child rights violations have been on an upward trend, especially in the cities.
The BSAF director said a lack of exemplary punishment of the accused, “weak charge sheets and evidence”, delays in the trial process, victims’ families negotiating with offenders under pressure from influential people, and erosion of social values are leading to the rising numbers of such incidents.
“In the first four and a half months, verdicts were delivered in only seven child rape cases, three sexual assault cases, and two murder cases,” he added.
Recommendations to stop the horror
The BSAF made 11 recommendations to help stop the violation of child rights.
The third recommendation says that lawmakers have to question the role of government departments and agencies concerned to help formulate tougher laws for accurate investigation and to ensure justice.
The next recommendation talks about speedy trial of cases filed over rape, killing and abduction of children to reduce the criminal acts. It also suggests capital punishment as the highest penalty for the convicted in such cases.
Addressing the meeting as chief guest, Md Fazle Rabbi Miah, deputy speaker of the House, said that a children affairs department would significantly reduce the number and severity of crimes against children, as it will bolster monitoring on them.
“The upazila level officials of the women’s affairs department remain busy with the welfare and complaints of women. They have little time for children,” he observed.
He urged the lawmakers to create mass awareness about child rights in their own constituencies.
“I believe they can succeed in ending tortures, rapes and killings of children, the way they did with child marriage, by raising awareness through mass rallies,” he said.
Fazle Rabbi, however, also opined that the government cannot control the situation alone.
“All of us have to act individually to stop the menace,” he suggested.
Md Shamsul Haque Tuku, president of the caucus, said that the government gives the highest priority to children, and proper coordination among ministries, government agencies, and non-government organizations (NGOs) can help to ensure child rights.
The meeting was addressed, among others, by the caucus’ vice president, Aroma Dutta, member Md Israfil Alam and BSAF Chairman Khawja Shamsul Huda.