Around half of the victims of sexual abuse living in urban areas in Bangladesh are raped before the age of 14, reveals a recently published nationwide survey.
The figure is also dismal in rural areas with 40 percent of the victims reporting the same.
Children falling victim to sexual abuse in the country is not a rare instance. In Khilgaon in the capital, a 10-year old girl bled to death last month after being raped by her uncle.
In late November last year, a 13-year-old girl from Lakshmipur was mutilated after her cousin hurled acid at her because she had refused to enter a relationship with him.
A four-year-old child was raped in Nilphamari in November by her neighbour.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics conducted the survey titled "Violence Against Women Survey 2011" in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).
The survey interviewed 12,600 women randomly chosen across all seven divisions with equitable distribution to ensure nationwide coverage.
"Most of the younger girls who are targeted belong to lower or lower-middle class. They get raped because they lack the kind of protection that we can give to our children. They are forced out of the security of their home or left home alone," said Gita Chakrabarty, senior deputy director of Child Rights Unit of Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK).
Girls selling flowers on the streets are some of the most common targets of sexual violence, added Chakrabarty.
"Just the other day I had to deal with the rape of a 10-year-old girl who was left home alone by her domestic worker mother. The mother used to pay a neighbour to look after her, but the incident occurred nevertheless," said Chakrabarty.
A UN study asked respondents, who were convicted rapists, about the reason behind their crime. Around 67 percent said they had raped for fun, while around 82.3 percent said they believed it was their sexual entitlement as men.
An astonishing 33.9 percent of them reported that they had never felt remorse for their crimes.
The study titled "Prevalence of and factors associated with non-partner rape perpetration: findings from the UN multi-country and cross sectional on men and women in Asia and the Pacific" was conducted by several UN wings like UNWomen, UNDP and UNPF.
The survey quizzed 2,377 men and its result was published last year.
Hamida Hossain, rights activist and founder member of Ask, told The Daily Star that men are reared up in a way where they are encouraged to apply force.
“They see the oppression of women around them and take it as normal. They are taught that to be considered a proper man one has to be tough and violent. Even as children they are handed down guns as toys. Their games involve fighting. So, they don't think twice before striking down someone who may be physically weaker," said Hossain.