At Home & Educational Institutions
N.S.M. Muzzammed Huq :
Safety and security of the people, particularly of the children and women is an integral part of the fundamental rights and democratic norms. Constitution of Bangladesh provides this right with necessary legal support. In spite of social awareness campaign and government initiatives for child development issues, child safety still remains a far cry. Recent reported incidences of child abuse and sexual harassment and inhuman atrocities of the perverted people has put child safety and security at home and educational institutions at a risk. It is as if schools, madrasas and reading rooms attached to mosques have become the most unsafe places. The recent incidences created panic among the parents and this may lead to negative approach to child education when Bangladesh is marching forward towards achieving the status of a developed nation.
The development objectives have emphasized on increasing child education, particularly girl's education, reducing drop outs, improving quality education and promoting additional opportunities for girls in and out of school. The law of Bangladesh considers all girls below 18 years as children and adolescents. Yet, the rapes of children under four or five years up to fourteen and fifteen years have been a common phenomenon in the recent years. The incidences of these sexual violence happened mostly in the educational institutions which is with an upward trend. This is creating a serious concern for girls and their parents and so far the society.
Concern is growing among parents, experts and children right activists on the rising trend of torture and violence upon girls. It is reported that in many cases, even the religious leaders, Imams of mosques, sons of the local political leaders and the moneyed men support these culprits and they to save them by threatening the witnesses in cases of filing General Diary, First Information Report (FIR), so that there can be no case filed against the abusers. The incidence of Nusrat murder case is a well- known example of sexual abuse leading to killing by the principal of a madrassa, where it needed the interference of the highest level to save the victim's family.
Another side of sexual abuse and harassment is caused due to having one sided love by the sons of influential people in the rural areas. If the girl does not respond positively, the miscreants abduct the girl and even rape and kill her. In this situation the guardians first want to try to resort to legal actions, but the local leaders advise them to settle this problem amicably. The muscle men in many cases do not allow the family members of the victim to take appropriate step to bring the culprit into book.
The government has enacted several laws and clues to protect children but they have not been properly implemented and that is why incidences of rape and other sexual violence against children are on the rise. The occurrence of such incidences is having a severe impact on the psyche of the school children that due to this their natural mental growth is getting greatly hampered. Campaign for ensuring safety of girls at home and educational places should be launched to promote the prevention of early marriage, awareness to avert sexual abuse in cooperation with students, teachers, parents and local leaders, religious leaders and community as a whole. Relevant education films containing religious teachings and warnings under the relevant laws may be screened to raise awareness informing the dangerous consequences of child marriage, child abuse and sexual harassment and legal implications for the people committing such heinous crime.
Culture of impunity and the lengthy process of trials are helping the perpetrators to get away with their crime. Families of victims feel discouraged to peruse justice because of lengthy procedure of trial and political pressure.
Rape and sexual harassment is a social crime. It is a curse for a society and the curse can be removed through public concern. Social voice should be raised against this crime as it is hampering our development efforts. Proper steps should be taken in all sectors including media in Bangladesh publicly and privately to eradicate this social crime.
There are more than 35 laws that seek to protect children from negligence, cruelty, exploitation and abuse and to promote their development. The Children Act, 1974 is the Principal Law that provides for care, protection and treatment of children of both as victims and as accused and specifies the empowerment of children as its first guiding principle.
The prevention of Women & Children Repression Act 2000 is specialized law came into force in 1995. It mainly deals with the violence against women and children. A new Children Policy 2011 was adopted highlighting children's rights to health, education, cultural activities and leisure, protection, birth registration and identity. The Children Act 2013 is a milestone of Child Protection initiated by the present government keeping consistency with CRC. The Children Act 2013, provides safe guards for the administration of Justice for children.
(PID- Project Feature)