626 children raped, 60% increase in child marriage in 2020: MJF
Despite the closure of educational institutions and the absence of public gatherings during the pandemic, 626 children were reportedly raped between January and December 2020, revealed Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) at an online press conference this morning.
The number of child marriages also increased by some 60 percent during this period, it said.
During the period under review, 145 children died as a result of rape, attempted rape, murder, abduction, disappearance and torture. Eight girls were tortured while working as domestic help while three of them died.
In addition, 192 children were killed in various incidents, of whom 156 were killed in road accidents and 165 drowned. A total of 29 children went missing and were abducted.
The data was found after analysing related news of five national Bangla dailies -- Prothom Alo, Jugantar, Samakal, Ittefaq, Kaler Kantha -- and three national English dailies -- The Daily Star, New Age and Dhaka Tribune.
According to MJF's review of the deteriorating child rights situation, it was found that children in Bangladesh are not safe even at home, as most rapes were perpetrated by acquaintances within the family and neighbours.
There have been incidents of rape during the collection of pandemic-related relief .
Besides, at least 145 children faced murder attempts in 2020 and according to news reports, the reasons included family disputes, complications over property, rejection of romantic proposals, protesting injustice, rape and much more.
On the other hand, 34 children died by suicide, and the reasons were failing exams, anger, problems in relationship, harassment, rape or attempted rape, and cyber blackmailing.
MJF analysis of news reports consisted of 330 positive news in 12 categories and 1,361 negative news items in 28 categories.
The press conference titled 'Bangladesh Child Situation 2020', was moderated by MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam and she said according to MJF's analysis, children are not safe in their own homes.
Shaheen Anam called upon all the government agencies engaged in child protection to be more responsible as well as to work together for the protection of children's rights.
Muhibuzzaman, joint secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs was the special guest of the conference and he said the crisis in child safety is worrying. He suggested addressing the existing problems through social mobilisation.
Member of the Caucus on Child Rights of the Bangladesh Parliament, Aroma Dutta MP, was present as the chief guest and she highlighted the need for a separate ministry or department on child affairs to work closely for the protection of children's rights and called upon all to work together for policy formulation, performance and intensive supervision of work.
MJF's Governing Board member Fatema Yusuf; Rafeza Shaheen, Coordinator, Child Protection Division, MJF; various MJF partners, among others, spoke at the event.