Dhaka, Jan 9, 2021: Despite the closure of educational institutions and the absence of public gatherings during the Corona period, 626 children were raped while child marriages increased by some 60% during January to December 2020.
Revealing this data during an online press conference this morning, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) urged the Bangladesh government to take more effective measures to provide overall security to the children of Bangladesh. The press conference titled ‘Bangladesh Child Situation 2020’, was moderated by MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam. Member of the Caucus on Child Rights of the Bangladesh Parliament Aroma Dutta MP was present as the chief guest. Mr. Muhibuzzaman, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs was the special guest. MJF’s Governing Board member Fatema Yusuf and various MJF partners participated in the discussion. Rafeza Shaheen, Coordinator, Child Protection Division, MJF, presented an overview of ‘Bangladesh Child Situation 2020’ during the press conference.
Analyzing child-related news of five national Bengali dailies – Prothom Alo, Jugantar, Samakal, Ittefaq, Kaler Kantha and three national English dailies – Star, New Age and Dhaka Tribune, MJF said that despite the Corona situation, 626 children were raped while 101 children became victims of child marriage.
According to MJF’s review of the deteriorating child rights situation, it is clear that children in Bangladesh are not safe at home, as most child rapes are perpetrated by acquaintances within the family. Similarly, child marriages have increased alarmingly during the Corona period due to family influences.
During the period under review, 192 children were killed in various incidents, out of which 156 were killed in road accidents. At the same time, 165 children were drowned. In addition, 145 more children died as a result of rape, attempted rape, murder, abduction, disappearance and torture. Eight girls were tortured while working as housemaids while three of them died.
According to the review, in 2020, only 13 to 18 year old children were raped, followed by the age group of 6 to 12 years. Children were raped luring them in offering chocolate or food, threatened, killed and found alone at home. There have been incidents of rape during collection of relief during Corona period.
Attempts were made to kill and maim 145 children in 2020. The news reports cited various reasons for this, which included, among others: family quarrels, wealth distribution complications, rejection of love proposals, childbirth, and protest against injustice, stress and rape. Besides, 34 children committed suicide and 23 others were injured while trying to commit suicide. Suicides occurred due to failure of examination, anger at family, love, harassment, rape or attempted rape, rape or indecency. Suicide has also occurred after being a victim of cybercrime or blackmail.
In 2020, 29 children went missing and were abducted. Cases of kidnapping for money, love problems, rejection of marriage proposals, revenge, trafficking and ransom demands have been published in the news. Besides, in 2020, there were 16 incidents of child abuse. The names of the abusers include housewives, parents, teachers, harassers, local chairmen, employers, neighbors, honest mothers, co-workers. The list of negative words about the child also includes the child’s involvement in crime and the death of the newborn. It is to be noted that in the analysis of MJF, the number of 12 categories of positive news was 330 in 2020, and 1361 news items were published in 28 categories of negative news.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, said that according to MJF’s analysis, children are not safe in their own homes. She called upon all the government agencies engaged in child protection to be more responsible as well as to work together for the protection of children’s rights.
Aroma Dutta MP compared the prevailing violence against women and children in the country to a ‘solar eclipse’. She highlighted the need for separate Ministry / Department of Child Affairs to work closely for the protection of children’s rights and called upon all to work together for policy formulation, performance and intensive supervision of work.
Mr. Muhibuzzaman, Joint-Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, said the crisis of child safety was worrying. He suggested addressing the existing problems through social mobilization.
Fatema Yusuf expressed deep concern over the disruption of children’s education activities due to Corona. Rafeza Shaheen called on the media to pay more attention to the mentality of the rapist.
One of the objectives of the MJF’s annual ‘Bangladesh Child Situation Review’ is to make policy recommendations on important issues related to children. It is to be noted that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its 2009 “Final Observations on Bangladesh” report recommended the adoption of a system of regular data storage to assess the situation of children in Bangladesh. In this context, MJF has been using newspapers as a source since 2011 and started collecting various types of news related to children on a regular basis. Although the MJF works intensively on hazardous child labor, it covers a wide range of issues related to child rights, including child abuse, child success, murder, suicide, and sexual abuse.