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Ending the exploitation of children

  • Published at 12:03 am June 27th, 2019
Child Labour
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu

Those who violate the rights of children deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law

It is a grim truth that when it comes to sexual exploitation, no child is immune.

Child rights activists have pointed out again and again that while there are laws and policies in the country designed to protect children, implementation continues to lag behind, leaving many children vulnerable as a result.

Statistics of abuse, when it comes to children, are notoriously unreliable, because they do not speak to the whole picture -- a vast number of incidents simply go unreported and unnoticed.

Of all groups of people, children are the ones most in need of legal and institutional protection, and needless to say, ours is failing them badly.

Organizations like Terre des Hommes Netherlands are doing good work on the child protection front; over a thousand children have received mental and physical treatment, which in Dhaka constitutes mostly street children, and in Tangail, the children of sex workers.

But at the end of the day, the admirable work done by small organizations is just a drop in the bucket: We need comprehensive reforms not only at the governmental level, but also a change in social attitudes that prevent people from discussing the horrors of sexual exploitation.

We must -- and there are no two ways about it -- invest in education, and particularly in girls, who tend to be neglected by society; empowering girls and arming them with comprehensive knowledge on sexuality, rights, and the meaning of consent will go a long way in deterring abusers.

Those who violate the rights of children deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and it is time this issue was made a priority in Bangladesh.