Some 52.5 percent of children of the country face different forms of punishment both at home and outside while 15.2 percent experience sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), according to a baseline survey.
The study also revealed that the children are mostly punished, in 72 percent cases, only for their poor educational performance which, educationists say, could be reduced if the burden of exams is taken off their shoulders.
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) launched the survey report at The Daily Star Centre yesterday.
BLAST and Save the Children jointly conducted the three-month study during the first half of 2018 on 402 children and 402 parents or guardians in Dhaka, Chattogram and Rajshahi cities, Shibganj of Chapainawabganj, Sreemangal of Moulvibazar, Sylhet and Faridpur.
Prof Salma Akhter, consultant of ARCED Foundation; Advocate Tajul Islam, advisor of BLAST; and Mahbuba Akter, deputy-director of BLAST, presented the findings while educationist Rasheda K Choudhury addressed the programme as chief guest.
The study investigated two aspects -- Physical and Humiliating Punishment (PHP) and Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV).
According to the report, 76 percent of children in Dhaka city face violence related to PHP at home while 63 percent face the same kind of punishment in Godagari upazila of Rajshahi.
Some 51.46 percent of fathers, 54.35 percent of mothers, and 51.06 percent of other guardians justified punishing children as a disciplinary action, the study says.
Findings also show both boys and girls face SGBV by their close relatives or by strangers. Some 19.92 percent of girls and 7.69 percent of boys faced SGBV during the one-year preceding the study time.
While presenting the report, Prof Salma Akhter said, “The study shows us that children are facing negative environment both in and outside the family. For this reason, the parents, especially mothers, should be involved in schools and other institutions where children spend a long part of the day.”
Speaking on the occasion, Rasheda K Choudhury said, “We now realise whether the teachers are being forced to do this (torturing the child) due to the pressure of examinations. Nowhere in the world will you see four public examinations held before university level.”
“The PEC [primary education completion] examination has created so much pressure on students that the parents are also at a loss. This is responsible for expansion of the coaching business,” she added.
Justice Nizamul Hoque, chief legal advisor of BLAST, presiding over the programme, said if children are tortured outside of home, it draws attention of all. “But when they are tortured at home or school, it usually doesn't come to light… We have to have the mindset that children could be nurtured without subjecting them to torture.”
In this regard, the speakers laid stress on positive parenting and making schools more attractive to children so that they could improve their academic performance. In this way, violence against children could be reduced, and it is better than making law, they suggested.
Prof Quazi Faruque Ahmed, member of Bangladesh Education Commission 2010; Justice Nurunnahar Osmani, member of the child rights committee of National Human Rights Commission; and Tasmima Hossain, editor of the daily Ittefaq, also spoke at the programme, among others.