Cruelty against Children in Bangladesh; Declining Social Capital Damaging the Development Potentiality – Abdullah Mamun
Children constitute the foundation of a nation. Provisions for fundamental rights of all citizens of Bangladesh including the children are mentioned in the Constitution of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh. Chapter three of the Constitution ensures sufficient protection of the basic human rights of all citizens with special emphasis on that of the children. In Article 28(4) of Bangladesh Constitution emphasis has been put on making specific provisions regarding the advancement of the children. Moreover, the provisions for free and compulsory education of the children as well as meeting basic needs, equal opportunity, rights and duties, public health and morality have also been added which are highly important for the smooth running of the state affairs. Nowadays cruelty against children has become an obnoxious syndrome of moral degradation and disorder that leads the society to moral bankruptcy.
Legal Provisions for Children’s Security
Children are probably the most neglected members of society and hardly have any voice, even at home. As a result, they are consistently becoming easy victims of all sorts of violence. Article (6.7.1) of the National Child Policy 2011 provides the provision about overall safety and security by incorporating provision like steps shall be taken to ensure security and safety of the children against all forms of violence, alms mongering and physical, mental and sexual abuses. Effective public awareness program shall be undertaken to stop violence on children and abuse of them.’ But the statement remains in paper and no effective measures are still visible. Moreover, the legal system, especially the criminal justice system – and more specifically the law enforcement agency – are indifferent to such laws and more often fair treatment is not made to the children. The policy has also provided commitment for ensuring child rights and elimination of all forms of child abuse and discrimination in the light of the constitution of Bangladesh, the Child Act and International Charters/ Conventions- article (4.1-3). But whatever is in policies and papers, the daily happenings shows the opposite scenario. The matter is like- the cow remains in the list but not in the stable.
State of Lawlessness
Laws are not helpful in political culture of violence goes on unimpeded. In every aspect of life tension and insecurity of violence are making life difficult for almost everybody. An ordinary person has nowhere to go for help. The whole social life has become fractured. Humanity is in severe crisis in Bangladesh. Children are killed, women are raped and harassed, extra-judicial killing is on the rise. Power politics of the country does not pay heed to such incidents rather it is making cruelty and crime widespread.
The law enforcement agencies are totally indifferent or they often fail to find out the guilty persons. In some cases, victims’ guardian alleged that police paid no heed to their request and took no effective effort to find out the missing boys, rather they suggested them to go to Pir (religious scholar) to know the whereabouts of the boys. What a whimsical comment on a life security issue! Perpetrators do not even get arrested in many instances. Even the law enforcement agencies are getting actively involved in protecting (!) the offenders of such heinous crime. The police members were helpful to murderer of Rajon in Sylhet to flee away to Saudi Arabia. Even if the perpetrators are brought to trial, the lengthy legal process erodes public interest in the case. Sometimes the charge sheet submitted by the police is so weak that criminals get out taking unfair advantage of the inherent loopholes of law. Such culture of lawlessness instigates the culprits to become engaged in further crimes.
Factors behind the Cruelty
The cases of murder, killing, rape and harassment are increasing day by day due to disappearance of moral and religious education that erodes human values and intrinsic attitude which ultimately leads to moral degradation. Modern curricula are not supportive to make a moral man rather it abets students to obscenity, vulgarity, sexuality and uncontrolled intercourse. Being educated by such curricula men lose control over themselves and engage in any inhuman activities, the educated elder kills his two younger by suffocating (in Comilla), mother kills her offspring (in Banasree, Dhaka). Nothing bars them to do such shocking incidents as they lack their feelings of morality.
Weaker familial bonds and poor social interactions are seemed the main reasons for the spike in violence and cruelty against children, even within the supposedly safe protection of their homes. The interpersonal relations between parents and children are loosening. Widespread use of technology is also responsible for loosening social relationship. Heavy engagement of kids with technological devices keeps them away from their relatives and social relationship. The society is going to be individualistic. Joint family system is on the verge of extinction. Unhappy conjugal life often leads to depression and the children in many cases fall victim to their parents’ mental stress. Certain TV programmes can be directly blamed for the spread of violence in the society. It seems that all we watch on TV are quarrels and fights within families. Unfortunately, such programmes are popular among the audience. Parents often vent the stress they face at work or in everyday life on their children, which is not right. The deterioration of law and order and the failure to prosecute murder cases of children are sowing the seeds of violence in the country. The depressed people tend to think negatively and, after a certain period of time, all of their decisions and thoughts get affected by the depression, often resulting in violent outburst.
People are having problems in keeping pace with the consumerism-based economic growth in which earning more and more money is the main focus. This result is the deterioration of social values and responsibilities. It is creating restlessness among us and damaging our social relations. Children are often becoming victims of these imbalanced changes in the society. Physically they are weaker than the adults and are dependent on them for their existence. One would think twice before hitting an adult but one can get away with doing that to a child.
A large number of children in Bangladesh are exposed to severe forms of physical and mental violence at home, work places, institutions and other public places. The nature and extent of violence against children has been increasing day by day. They are not only tortured physically but also killed on flimsy grounds. The incidents of child killing have now become the talk of the country.
According to a statistics of Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) the rate of children killing in Bangladesh has increased by 61 percent in 2014 than that of the previous year, and it’s also continuing in the same rate in 2015 till July whereas in previous years the scenario was 350 in 2014, 218 in 2013 and 209 in 2012. Such brutalities against kids tolled to 968 from 2012 to mid 2015.
On the other hand, according to a report of the Daily Star at least 56 children were killed across the country till February 2016. 29 of them were killed in January while 27 in February. Nine of the 56 children were killed either by their biological parents or by step-parents. According to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikhar Forum (BSAF) data, 40 of the 292 children killed in 2015 and 41 of 366 victims in 2014 were murdered by their parents.
Some Gruesome Instances
Samiul Alam Rajon aged 13 was beaten to death tying with the tree in Sylhet on 8th July 2015 by a group of men for allegedly trying to steal a rickshaw van. The incident was filmed and posted on social media. On August 13, 2015 another thirteen-year-old kid Rakib was tortured to death in Khulna. Rakib’s only “fault” was that he left his old garage job and joined elsewhere. And for this, he had to die a cruel death allegedly at the hands of his former employer. Garage owners themselves stripped naked the boy, inserted a high-pressure air pump nozzle into his rectum and filled the body with air. Rakib’s intestines tore apart and lungs burst as air filled the abdomen.
Four schoolboys were found buried at a village on February 17 after they went missing from the village on February 12. The bodies of four schoolboys were recovered from a ditch at Sundrateki village in Bahubal upazila of Habiganj district.
Nusrat Aman Aroni, 14, and her six-year-old brother Alvi Aman were found unconscious at their apartment on 2nd March, 2016 in the afternoon. They were declared dead at Dhaka Medical College Hospital that evening. It was initially believed that they died from food poisoning before autopsies suggested they might have been murdered. There were signs of struggle. Finally their mother confessed about the murder being highly concerned about their future; which seems absolutely unbelievable and evidences proved that there might be extra-marital affairs.
These incidents have raised questions over the state of society. In all of the cases, the kids had to die for silly reasons and all of the cases are the direct result of moral degradation of the people.
Drastic Measures are Necessary
An amicable environment for future generation is an unsung pledge of any civilization and elder’s fondness to younger is a natural course; which is unfortunately been severely violated in Bangladesh. Psychologist can better reveal the causes behind the social cruelty but remedy must come from changing social outlook. If drastic actions are not taken against the killers and oppressors such kinds of incidences will continue to occur. Punishment has to be visible and cases of violence against children should be brought under the speedy trial tribunal. While it may not be possible to change these things with laws, different institutions, especially the government agencies concerned, should try to promote positive changes. Violence against children must stop and the judiciary, law enforcing agents and the parents and guardians of children themselves, must be sensitized to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the laws protecting children in Bangladesh. Furthermore, children need to be protected from vested interest groups and acts of impunity towards children by those purporting to protect society must be dealt with seriously and in accordance with the law. Otherwise, development potentiality of the country would be nipped in the bud because who are the kids today will meet the needs of tomorrow.
The Writer is student of Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh