Not a day goes by that we don’t hear or read about children being raped, beaten, or killed. According to Manusher Jonno Foundation’s (MJF) report titled “Bangladesh Child Situation-2018: Newspaper Analysis”, in 2018, 246 news reports published in six leading national dailies cited the murders and attempted murders of 276 children across the country, which is an increase from the 208 reports in 2017 citing 224 victims. Even the reported number of children killed in 2018 (227) is an increase from the previous year (196).
There is an urgent need to re-evaluate our priorities because we have not been able to address the root causes behind the rampant violation of child rights in our society today. What is also dispiriting is that despite the existence of laws and initiatives, and even in countless cases where violence against children comes to light, the perpetrators get away with committing horrific crimes because of myriad reasons (political influence being one of them). And the fact that conviction rates in cases filed against the repression of women and children are less than one percent only goes to show that the process of trial is not properly equipped to dispense justice in cases related to child rights violation.
The state has to do more to ensure the safety of children in the country. Judicial reform should be of utmost priority. The problems associated with lengthy, costly procedures which dissuade families to seek legal action must be addressed, and disposal of cases must be sped up because we must not forget that punishment acts as a deterrent. Sensitising and training law enforcement personnel is another area that needs focus; it is of paramount importance that child victims are dealt with sensitively and that investigation reports are done with diligence and care. The government has a duty to ensure that victims and their families do not face intimidation and harassment at every step of the legal process, and send a clear message that hurting children shall have its consequences.