The alarming rise in child rape incidents in the country in recent months just goes to show how little we have done to protect our children from potential rapists and sexual predators. As Manusher Jonno Foundation, a rights organisation, has revealed recently, at least 47 children were either raped or subjected to attempted rape and sexual harassment in the last 15 days since April 2. And according to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum's (BSAF) Child Rights Violation Data 2019, a total of 164 children were raped across the country from January till March this year. There are numerous such cases that go unreported.
What worries us most is the fact that our children are not even safe in their educational institutions and at the hands of so-called religious leaders. The Daily Star reported that a headmaster of a government primary school in Jhenidah was arrested on April 17 on charges of sexually harassing three female students of class-IV. On April 16, a priest allegedly raped a girl inside a Hindu temple in Jashore when the worship services were underway. And it's not just girls; boys are not safe either in educational institutions, especially in madrasas. Recently, we came across a number of news reports that revealed that minor boys were raped by their teachers inside madrasas. The horrible crimes committed against the 18-year-old madrasa student Nusrat Jahan Rafi, who later succumbed to her injuries, should be a wakeup call for us all: we need to make our educational institutions safe for our children.
We demand exemplary punishment of the perpetrators in all the child rape and sexual harassment cases. No rapists and abusers should be able to escape justice. The government must ensure speedy trial in these cases and formulate a specific law for the protection of children in the country.