Children’s rights are being violated throughout the country. How to address the issue?

ChildrenRights of children are being violated at every level of our society. Not only the children of slums but also the children of wealthy parents are being deprived of their rights. I am going to highlight how to come up with a solution to ensure their rights. I think that the first and most important right of a child is access to education. The government should make sure that all children have free access to primary and high school education.
The next right of a child is being properly looked after and being taken care of. There are lots of children who are social outcasts for not being accepted in families. Adoption system should be introduced to provide these children with home and families. It has become a common trend in our society to torture and abuse children nowadays. The government needs to ensure that they do not get merciless treatment from any quarters. Child abuse should be eradicated from society by upholding their rights. Children need to have a healthy and standard life. If their parents cannot afford to meet their needs, the government should extend its supporting hand to them.
Children have every right to remain hale and hearty. Awareness about their wellbeing should be raised among parents. Normally, in Bangladesh parents decide what their children should choose. Children’s interest should be given top priority. It will be relevant to note that the Children Act remains almost inactive even two and a half years after its enactment, the objective of which was to prevent child rights violation. While the government immediately needs to come out of its slumber over allowing the law at hand to become effective and launch mass awareness programmes in this regard, child rights activists and saner sections of society must remain watchful about the process of the trial of grave crimes involving oppression of children.
Md Sumon Mia
Department of Management
Information Systems
University of Dhaka

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A large number of children are deprived of their basic rights because of their lack of access to health and education in unfriendly social conditions in Bangladesh. In addition, children are exposed to severe forms of physical and mental torture at home, the work place, institutions and in other public places. The extent of violence against children, irrespective of their age, sex and class, is increasing day by day. Overall, our children are not safe despite the efforts made by the government and non-government organisations to ensure the rights of children.
Many children are forced to work under hazardous conditions and are being denied their rights to education, leisure and early years of natural growth. They are also exposed to such situations that make them vulnerable to trafficking, abuse, violence and exploitation. Some of them are killed mercilessly by their parents and relatives who while indulging in such activities violate children’s right to life and existence. Major obstacles that children fall victim to are poverty, lack of education, lack of knowledge about human rights and about health and nutrition, violation of government rules, broken families, mental disorder of parents, lack of family management and early marriage.
How children are being deprived of their rights: Children are being deprived of their fundamental rights when they work as labourers. They are also being subjected to violence in the form of both sexual and physical abuse. The fields of work where children are being abused are mainly domestic works, sex works, industrial works, and while working as beggars.
Legal initiatives taken by the government: There are 25 special laws and ordinances in Bangladesh to protect and improve the status of children. But there is a lack of harmony among laws that should have been designed to prohibit the employment of children or to fix the minimum age of employment of children. These include the employment of children act-1938, the factory act-1965, the children’s act-1974, the children rules-1976, the plantations labour ordinance-1962, the shops and establishment act- 1965 etc. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) also had an objective to protect children and women’s rights. The convention of child rights and the Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain-2000 prohibit abusing child rights.
Children are probably the most neglected members of society and hardly have any voice, even when at home. As a result, they are consistently becoming easy victims of all sorts of violence. Though there is the Children Act 1974 that was purported to deal with juvenile justice, this law too is inadequate. Furthermore, the legal system, especially the criminal justice system and the law enforcement agencies are indifferent to such laws and, more often than not, treat children just as they would treat adult criminals. Violence against children must stop and the judiciary, law enforcing agencies and all parents and guardians of children must be sensitised to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the laws protecting children in Bangladesh.
Shabnam Talukder Barsha
School of Law
BRAC University

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Violation of children’s rights is a common trend now in society. If a child’s right is violated in broad daylight in the presence of a crowd, more than 90 per cent people of it will ignore the incident. Some people even do not want to look upon children as human being, kudos to the humanity.
According to the existing laws in Bangladesh, any person below the age of 16 is treated as a child. A child in this country is entitled to enjoy a number of rights in accordance with civil laws as well as social norms. Some of these rights include their right to care and protection, right to healthcare and right to be literate, rights of the child labourers, rights of the handicapped children, rights of the blind, deaf and crippled children, rights of the mentally retarded children etc. Also the social attitude towards children has a huge impact on determining the rights of children. Children’s social status has changed overtime. Traditionally, parents were considered a natural protector of their children. They were supposed to act in the best interest of their children. Children had little rights of their own. But now juvenile courts have emerged to protect and uphold children’s rights leading to a separate judicial mechanism in the criminal justice system. This system means to say that children have independent legal rights and they do not rely on parents or guardians or the state to act in their interest.
The aforementioned rights of the children are being seriously violated in Bangladesh either willingly or unwillingly. We need to find out the reasons behind such violations first. Only then it will be easier for us to determine the remedial measures that can be taken to stop these violations. Among the reasons that we have cited so far, the most notable are lack of awareness about child rights among adults and children, negative attitude towards children, lack of proper implementation of the laws relating to children, non-availability of children’s own organisations, misuse and improper use of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, child trafficking, drug addiction, illiteracy of the people, poverty etc.
In order to address this serious issue, we need to identify the international guidelines in the light of which the government should enact and implement its laws and policies to protect the rights of children.
The government should begin with formulation of policies for children by creating a comprehensive national agenda for them, developing permanent bodies or mechanisms to promote coordination, monitoring and evaluation of activities throughout all its sectors, ensuring that all legislation is fully compatible with the international guidelines, making children visible in policy development processes by introducing child impact assessments, carrying out adequate budget analysis to determine the portion of public funds to be spent on children and to ensure that these resources are being used to improve the status of all children in each jurisdiction, raising awareness and providing training to all those involved in policy-making and working with children.
Involving civil society – including children themselves – in the process of raising awareness of child rights and setting up independent statutory offices, commissions and other institutions to promote children’s rights are some of the means to protect children’s rights. The government should also put their efforts in identifying the types of voluntary organisations which are putting efforts and using resources to protect different rights of children at the grassroots and analyse the role of the identified voluntary organisations in the respective areas of their operations to protect the children in distress.
This would be helpful in ensuring child rights to health and education and to save them from any exploitation at workplaces or at home. This could also give protection to and ensure rehabilitation, of the physically and mentally handicapped children, juvenile delinquents and drug addicts. The government should analyse the whole content relating to various services for the protection of human rights of the above mentioned vulnerable groups of children, and also must find out the weaknesses in their areas of operation to suggest effective and pragmatic measures to overcome these. Exploring the possibility of effectively utilising these voluntary organisations to defend children’s rights is another important measure that the government should undertake.
Every child is precious and has his/her inherent right to life. All including parents, care givers, government officials, NGOs, civil society, the media and even a man on the street have the responsibility to ensure that every child survives. Each child should be protected by law. There are child acts and rules in our legislation, but their objectives are often found unclear when they are implemented. For their proper implementation we need to examine each of these rules systematically. However, legislation is not the only solution although they have direct impact on the status of children. We also need to bring about a change in our mindset to create a healthy environment in the family for their proper upbringing.
Muhammad Darul Huda
University of Dhaka

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Bangladesh is a densely populated country with a population of about 160 million. About half of the population of Bangladesh is under the age of 18. This part of the population is considered children and more than 20 million of them are under the age of 5. About 73 per cent of these children live in rural areas and 27 per cent live in the urban areas. About one third of these children live below the poverty line. The violation of child rights is a common incident in Bangladesh now. Children have their basic rights to education, balanced diet, health and nutrition, protection, recreation, sanitation and hygiene. But most of the children of Bangladesh are deprived of these rights.
In Bangladesh about 30 per cent of the people live in extreme poverty and many families are unable to meet their basic needs. This forces these families to engage their children in risky and hazardous jobs. About 22 per cent of the children in Bangladesh are illiterate, 30 per cent know how to sign their names, 36 per cent of them have primary education and only 10 per cent have secondary education.
Approximately 80 per cent of students are enrolled in grade one primary schools. High drop-out rates due to poverty and poor quality of teaching and learning are serious problems for primary schools. Only 46 per cent of boys and 53 per cent of girls attend secondary school. About 50 per cent of primary and 80 per cent of secondary level students drop out of school in Bangladesh. Due to poverty and our social structure, children rarely have the opportunity to express themselves.
It is difficult for most children to express their opinions and participate in family decision-making process because parents often ask them to work or study hard without poking their nose in other matters. Most of them, even those from affluent families who live in cities, find no support to keep themselves physically fit by taking part in various sports in the open field. Some of them cannot even enjoy some traditional festivals. Deprivation of seven human needs such as health, nutrition, education, fresh water, sanitation, shelter and information are high among children living in poor families. Oppression of children in Bangladesh is commonplace. It is due to the unwillingness of the government to identify the issues that require urgent attention for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child or for protection of human rights in general.
The government and social organisations need to be aware of the rights of children. The measures for protecting child rights would be taking steps to improve basic education in order to eliminate child labour, educating poor families under a non-formal education system, raising awareness among parents about the consequences of risky child labour and improving the health services of rural health centres.
MD Imam Hossain
Fareast International University

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