The government should implement zero tolerance policy against child abusers irrespective of their political or social connection or financial power, said speakers yesterday.
Referring to the torture and death of Rajon in Sylhet and Rakib in Khulna, members of Child Rights Advocacy Coalition in Bangladesh said the prevalent culture of impunity is a factor behind such crimes.
The strong oppressing the weak has become a part of the country's culture, said Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra, a member of the coalition.
At a press conference at Jatiya Press Club, the coalition, a network of 10 development, non-government and international organisations, condemned the murder of 12-year-old Rakib.
"We don't value children enough," said Michael McGrath, country director of Save the Children.
"Many people see them as the most exploitable, the most easily manipulated, cheap labour, easier to trick," he said.
He suggested creating a "National Child Protection System" under the social welfare ministry.
Wilfred Sikukula, group director (programs) at World Vision, Bangladesh said children are being used as commodities that adults feel they can expend as they please.
He said if these incidents were not properly investigated and resolved, then the future of the country would be threatened with loss of humanity.
Abdus Shahid Mahmood, director of Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum, called for enactment of a Children Protection Policy.
"The government must ensure punishment," said Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of a civil rights body, Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik.
The coalition demanded that the cases of Rajon and Rakid murders are brought under speedy trial tribunal and exemplary punishment meted out to the killers.
They also suggested forming a committee led by a High Court judge and coordinated by the National Human Rights Commission, to monitor these two cases till completion of the trials.
Representatives from Terre des Hommes, Netherlands and Plan Bangladesh also spoke at the programme. Meanwhile, several other rights organisations expressed grave concern over the rise of incidents of torture and murder of
children and also urged for exemplary punishment for the culprits.
In a press release, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad condemned the incidents that led to Rajon and Rakib's deaths.
In another statement, Manusher Jonno Foundation said social apathy over these incidents paves the way for their recurrence.
At a separate press conference at Jatiya Press Club, Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyer's Association, said the government cannot avoid its responsibility by terming the murders "stray incidents".