Child Abuse In Bangladesh - Statistics & Acts

Credit: Tamanna Tabassum (Jagannath University)

Children play vital role in framing the society and they are the greatest asset of a country. Once Nelson Mandela said “true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children. ”He also said, “Our children are our greatest treasure .They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” Child abuse is an alarming issue and it is an intolerable crime in every existing society. 

In general sense child abuse means harming the child either physically, mentally or emotionally. The impact of such kind of abuse is traumatizing and not good for child’s mental health. A victim of child abuse suffers whole life. It just leaves a scar in child’s body and mind. Child’s maltreatment can result in isolation, distrust and psychological disorder which can affect educational career of a child. Some child suffers from mental health disorder such as anxiety, stress, trauma which can develop suicidal thoughts and self-harming tendency. Sometimes it causes eating disorder, lack of sleep, obesity and dysfunctional behavior. But the issue of child abuse is a common issue and very much neglected. In our country we’re not concerned about child’s right then let alone child abuse. 

Child Abuse is an imprecation in our society and it affects the process of development of a country. The purpose of my essay is to represent the current situation of child abuse in Bangladesh. Whether there are sufficient laws and policies to prevent child abuse. Whether is it possible to prevent child abuse only with laws and order. 

Child abuse is a common phenomenon. It is estimated that nearly one billion child aged 2-17 years, faced physical, sexual or emotional violence in past few years. (1) 

At least one in seven children have faced child abuse or neglect (preventing child abuse and neglect 2019)(2) So when we talk about child abuse, it crosses our mind what is child abuse and what are their forms? Definitions of what constitutes child abuse vary among professionals, between social and cultural groups, and across time. (3) 

According to WHO (1999),"child abuse constitute all forms of physical and emotional ill treatment, sextual abuse, neglect or negligent, treatment or commercial or other exploitation resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of relationship, trust or power. "Child abuse also includes child labor, child marriage, child neglect etc. Current situation of Bangladesh about child abuse and maltreatment is horrible. Everyday there is at least one news about child abuse in papers. Approximately at least 1,387 children in Bangladesh have faced abuse in one form or another. (4) 

In most of the cases children are abused in their safest and most comfortable place. They are often maltreated by relatives, parents and caregiver. 69.62% parents and caregivers think that it is either justifiable or strongly justifiable to punish a child when they make any mistake. (5) Females are the most targeted and they suffer vulnerably. In Bangladesh, young girls are increasingly falling victim to online sexual harassment and abuse. 90% of the victims are pre-teen and teenagers. Child abuse can occur even in Institutions. The recent video of madrasa student who was beaten by his teacher Yahya gained a mass attention. (5). 

Again in July 2019, an incident of rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in capital Dhaka's Wari area marked a huge tremor across the country. (6) 

We need special laws and order to prevent child abuse and maltreatment in Bangladesh. Laws are meant to be enacted to overcome any problem. There are some laws and policies regarding child abuse in Bangladesh. The constitution of Bangladesh also recognized child's right. (7) 

Bangladesh also has signed the CRC (Convention on the rights of the child) in 1989 and there are also some other statutory laws and state policies to prevent child abuse. CRC obligates governments to protect children from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s), or any other person who has the care of a child.(8) 

It also states to Such protective measures should be taken for the establishment of social programs to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.(9).

Article 14 of the Bangladesh constitution prohibits all sorts of exploitation of adult and child, Article 17: Provides for adopting effective measures for the purpose of establishing a uniform mass-oriented and universal system of education and free and compulsory education to all children, Article 18 Provides that the state shall raise the label of nutrition and improvements of public health, Article 28 states that state shall not be prevented from making special provisions in favor of children. Forced labor is prohibited in Article 34. Besides, there are some statutory laws and policies governing child abuse such as The children act 2013 which is harmonized with CRC defines the children under 18 and prescribe punishment of child violence. It also provides soft laws for child offenders. Child probation was encouraged, a special child welfare Board and police desk Should be formed under this Act. The Prevention of Oppression Against Women and Children Act, 2000 which deals with violence against women and children with outline of punishment of child violence, rape, murder, acid attack, child trafficking etc. Penal code 1860 mentions about child abuse, child abduction, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, slavery, forced labor and selling and buying minor for the purpose of prostitution. The Pornography Control Act, 2012 prohibits child pornography and it also mentions the punishment and fines for the offender. The Children Act 1974 deals with juvenile justice system; child considered below the age of 16 years; provision of penalty for caregivers who abuse children but it is now replaced by Children Act, 2013.Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2010 defines "domestic violence” as physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and financial exploitation to children by any family member. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2017 has set the age of marriage for girl 18 and for a boy 21. There are also some policies governing child abuse such as The National Children Policy, 1994 and National Child Labor Elimination Policy, 2010. These address the issue of child labor, promotes and protects children’s rights and ensures the overall development of children. 

Bangladesh is marching forward towards preventing violence against child yet it has some lacking in full compliance. The laws of Bangladesh have given more emphasis on physical violence and sexual violence. Bangladesh legal system fails to define child neglect. Most of the laws are regarding the punishment procedure of child rape, kidnapping, abduction, child labor etc. Maximum cases of child mental abuse and neglect by their family are not reported. The Children Act paves for the child welfare board, systematic juvenile court system, child specialized Police desk, children’s bail provision. But due to lack of enough resources and clear jurisdiction, proper implementation Isn't possible. Though the Child Marriage Restrain Act,2017 stated the minimum age of marriage yet it has accepted child marriage in some special circumstances with due permission from court and family. Surely this law has put an adverse impact on the society.


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