National Girl Child Day: No country for our daughters
Although Sustainable Development Goals target ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against children by 2030, Bangladesh is yet to go a long way in this regard.
The reality is even worse for girl children. The latest report found that a total of 574 girl children were subjected to rape in the first eight months of this year, of whom, 84 were victims of gang rape and 43 were children with disabilities
Another 87 girl children faced attempt to rape, said the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum (NGCAF) report.
Twenty of the children were killed after rape, it mentioned.
The report will be officially launched today.
NGCAF prepared the "Girl Children Situation Monitoring Report 2022", based on reports from 24 daily newspapers, in 13 categories from January to August.
The analysis also revealed that even one-year-old infants have also been victims of rape.
Although some perpetrators were arrested following the GDs and cases filed after many such incidents, most of them were released on bail later.
Moreover, they also threatened the victims and their parents with dire consequences.
The report did not find any information on final punitive actions taken against the perpetrators in any such case, though a High Court directive suggests the disposal of rape or murder cases within 180 days of filing them with Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals.
With such a reality, Bangladesh is celebrating National Girl Child Day today, with the slogan "Somoyer Ongikar: Konyashishur Odhikar" (Rights of girl children: a timely pledge).
The report also found that 76 girls were subjected to sexual harassment and torture from January to August 2021, of whom, one was a child with disabilities and 15 were subjected to pornography.
Most of the occurrences took place in public places, including markets, streets, public transport, educational and religious institutions and in the confines of their own home, by family members, relatives, teachers and stalkers.
A total of 186 girls were also killed in this period, followed by rape, sexual harassment and family feud, while another 181 girls died by suicide, compared to the 153 in 2021.
During this period, three girl children were subjected to acid attacks due to family feud and rejection of affair proposals, while another 136 was subjected to trafficking and abduction.
Since the incidents of child marriage are not widely reported in the media, the forum received the data from its partners working in the field.
According to the data, a total of 1,669 girls from 25 districts became the victims of child marriage in the first eight months, while 589 incidents of child marriage were stopped with the help of local administration.
Thirteen girl children also faced dowry-related domestic violence during this period, while five were killed.
On the other hand, a total of 15 girls who worked as domestic help were tortured in the first eight months of 2022, of whom two were killed after the torture, while one died by suicide.
Focus group discussions with girl children at the field level revealed that about 1,000 girl children are being regular victims of cyber harassment, including inappropriate messages, distorted images, sexual innuendos and much more.
However, an overwhelming majority of the girl children did not complain against those, as they did not know where to go to seek remedies. Others refused to pursue a legal battle, considering further threats and inconveniences.
The forum recommended completing judicial proceedings as soon as possible with special emphasis on child abuse, rape and murder, and enacting a separate "Sexual Harassment Prevention and Remedy Act".
It also recommended that the burden of proof in cases related to rape and attempts to rape must be shifted to the perpetrators, by amending the existing laws, along with stopping political and administrative shelter for perpetrators, and establishing a separate department for protecting child rights.
The recommendations also included providing gender-sensitive training to all those involved in the legal and judicial system and ensuring proper implementation of the existing laws.