The first one and a half month of the current year (until February 18) witnessed an unprecedented surge in child murders. A total of 45 children were killed during this time, according to Bangladesh Shishu Odhikar Forum statistics. The number is 42 as per Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights’ estimate.
Along with killing, child rape is rising alarmingly as well, according to the statistics of human rights organizations. Over 300 children were raped in 2016, which is almost half of the total recorded rapes that year. Most of the child victims were under the age of 12, some even younger than 6 years old. Crime experts are also concerned about the spree in countrywide child abduction cases. Following the arrest of a kidnapping ring in Shiddhirganj, Narayanganj in February this year, police found out a shocking story. The members of the ring admitted that they kidnapped 17 children and collected ransoms from their families in the past few months. Children and human rights activists suggest that speedy trial proceedings and implementation of exemplary punishment should be ensured to prevent the rise in crimes against children. Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), a coalition of 269 organizations, prepared their statistics based on the news published in 10 national dailies. According to their findings, 27 children in January and 18 till February 18 were killed in Bangladesh. By that estimate, on average one child per day became the victim of homicide this year. In the last one and a half months, 17 children were found dead shortly after going missing. The number was 10 in the first two months of 2016. The number of children killed by parents increased as well. Seven children were killed in the first one and a half month of 2017, whereas the number was 10 in the first two months of last year.
Nasima Begum, secretary of Women and Children Affairs Ministry, said, “Children are supposed to feel safe around their parents. However, the number of children being killed by their parents is increasing rapidly. This cannot be a normal phenomenon. No ministry can singlehandedly provide solution to this crisis. The combined efforts of various ministries is a must. The murder cases of Rajon and Rakib were under intense observation of the Women and Children Affairs Ministry. The culprits in those cases were sentenced to death quickly. If the executions were carried out, people would have had more faith in the system.” Human Rights Organization Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK) said a total of 724 rape cases were recorded in 2016. Of the victims, 308 were children, 157 of them were under the age of 12, and 46 were under the age of 6. According to BSAF data, over 400 children were raped in 2016, and 64 of the victims were gang raped. Most of these children were between the ages of 4 to 9 years old. In 2015, 521 children were raped countrywide.
BSAF said that political, family and property disputes, dowry, domestic violence, kidnapping, parental frustration, etc., are ending in claiming the lives of innocent children. In January, a seven-yearold boy named Rashidul Islam was hacked to death at the Darbeshkata area of Chakaria in Cox’s Bazar. His relative Ridwanul Haque has been accused of the crime. According to the charge sheet, he hacked the child with a sharp instrument over a family dispute. The severely wounded child later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. On February 12, a woman named Lucky Akther allegedly killed her neighbor’s children, Sumaiya Khatun (7) and Mehzabin Akhtar (6), in Chapainawabganj. On February 21, three children were killed by their elder brother Rubel Miah in Narshingdhi. Children are being killed by other children as well. At the beginning of January, a schoolboy named Adnan Kabir was killed by a gang of teenagers in Uttara. Police later arrested a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old boy for their participation in the killing.
BSAF director Abdus Shahid Mahmud said, “The rise of child killing in our society is very alarming. In the last 1.5 months, at least one child was killed per day. Who knows where the statistics will stand by the end of the year. Lengthy legal procedures are discouraging the families of victims to seek legal redress.” The National Human Rights Commission chairman, Kazi Riazul Haq said, “Children are being abducted, and often murdered due to property disputes, professional rivalry, and various other issues. Even parents are killing their own children. It is the sign of a society in great turmoil. Parents, academic institutions, society and the nation must ensure security for every child. The police and law enforcement agencies have to be more active. A countrywide social movement, like the movements against eve teasing and acid crimes, have to be organized.”