Amid growing concerns over violence against children, rights and development activists yesterday announced that they would form “child protection committees” at grassroots and national levels across the country.
They made the announcement from a protest rally, demanding justice for and putting an end to violence against women and children, at Central Shaheed Minar premises.
Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) arranged the rally where members of some 35 rights and development organisations attended.
Once formed, the child protection committees will conduct awareness generating campaign and monitor incidents of violence against children, Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, said.
The committees will also conduct survey to learn who the perpetrators are, how police is playing its role, and to what extent law is being implemented, she said, presiding over the rally.
“It is our duty to protect our children. Why do we think only police and the government will do it?” she asked.
Expressing her commitment to the cause, she wondered whether this would help the government combat the menace.
“Let us know how we can assist you to this end,” she said.
“We call upon the government to join this initiative… We cannot sit idle. We will do it [stop violence against children] collectively,” Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education, said.
She said protests should continue so that no child has to face violence, urging everyone -- irrespective of age -- to join the movement.
“We are forgetful... So many children and women have experienced violence and we forget all about them after a few days of noice,” Rasheda said, adding that such a platform would help towards the protests and overcome the said national forgetfulness.
Some 176 girl children became victims of rape between December, 2018 and April, 2019 in the country, according to a declaration paper which was read out at the rally.
Also, some 199 women became victims of rape in the past five months, says the paper, referring to news reports published in nine national dailies and data collected by Ain O Salish Kendra and MJF.
During this time, 22 girls and 58 women were sexually harassed, it adds.
Sharmeen Murshid, chief executive officer of Brotee, said as conscious citizens, everyone should take protest violence against children and women.
The government has sufficient initiatives. However, incidents of sexual violence were not monitored properly, said Advocate Jannatul Ferdaus, project coordinator of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association.
The courts have public prosecutors who are responsible for dealing with cases of violence against women and children, and ensuring punishment of the perpetrators, she said.
However, these did not happen to a great extent, she added.