Govt to form welfare board to protect child rights
The government will form a 19-member National Child Welfare Board to monitor the children's rights, risky child labour, and ensure education and health services.
Proposing the formation of the board, the cabinet at a meeting yesterday approved the draft of Child Act, 2010. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat.
Under the proposed act, separate Shishu Kalyan Boards will also be formed at district and upazila levels to assist the national board for the overall development of children, sources in the social welfare ministry said.
It suggested considering individuals under the age of 18 as children in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Presently 47 percent of the country's total population falls under this age group, said Wahida Banu, chairman of Bangladesh Shishu Odhikar Forum.
The incumbent act, formulated in 1974, considers individuals under 14 as children.
The proposed boards will work independently, but they should also ensure the birth registration of all children so the government can work properly, said Quomaran Nessa Khanam, secretary of social welfare ministry.
The government must know the number of children to involve them in national development, she added.
The act also proposed to punish the individuals or institutions who turn rude on children. The punishment will be a five-year imprisonment or a fine of Tk 100,000 or both, ministry sources said.
The same sentence will be applicable to anyone forcing a child to prostitution.
If anyone inject or feed any sedative or addictive item to a child, or employ juveniles for selling liquor, he or she will face three years' jail term or a fine of Tk 100,000 or both, said Nasima Begum, joint secretary of the social welfare ministry.
Secretary of social welfare ministry will head the National Child Welfare Board, while the director general (DG) of Directorate of Social Services will be the member secretary.
The additional secretaries of home, LGRD, education, information and women and children affairs ministries, joint secretaries (legislative and parliamentary affairs) of law ministry and labour and employment ministry, divisional commissioner of Dhaka division, DGs of Prime Minister's Office, directorate general of health services, directorate of primary education, disaster management bureau and Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics will be the members of the board.
A representative each from United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and Bangladesh Supreme Court Bar Council and two from NGOs will also be a part of the board, which will sit twice a year.
The district commissioner (DC) will be the president of the 11-member district level board, where deputy director of the district social services office will take the role of secretary.
The upazila nirbahi officer will lead the upazila level Shishu Kalyan Board. This body will hold meeting in every three months and will report to the district board.