Children with different life, different sufferings | 2017-02-07

Children with different life, different sufferings

Maloy Dutta, BSS

7th February, 2017 06:28:40 printer

Children with different life, different sufferings

Her struggle for survival started at the age of six when her father breathed his last. Being stricken by extreme poverty, Sumaiya's mother began working as a domestic help at nearby houses.


Over three years were passed in almost similar way. But Sumaiya faced a major blow when her mother left her after marrying another one.


Finding no way, Sumaiya took shelter one of her relative's houses in Chandpur where they treated Sumaiya as a slave and forced to complete all the domestic work.


"They beat me almost daily citing my fault. The days turned horrible to me. I used to cry daily and sought blessings of the almighty," Sumaiya was talking to the reporter.


"But I did not know that the more miseries were waiting for me," said Sumaiya aged around 15.


One day in around three years ago, one of the friends of his relatives offered Sumaiya to arrange a good job in Dhaka.


"Dreaming for a better life, I came to Dhaka with him. But she cheated with me and sold me to a broker," she said.


The broker second time sold Sumaiya to an elderly woman who run prostitution business in a slum in the capital.


"First three or four days, I did not agree to serve as sex slave. But they (the elderly woman and her gang) beat me brutally and did not provide food. Finding no way, I had to accept my fate," Sumaiya was stating.


She was serving four to five clients every day. Their tastes vary from one-another. Many of them are perverted.


"Few days later, law enforcers launched drive at our slum and evicted us. Some people of our team were arrested. But probably they were released later," she said.


"After that eviction, I along with some other girls was facing severe crisis of money and accommodation. Finding no alternative, I have to come down to street," Suamiya was stating with tear was rolling down though her check.


Currently aged around 15, Sumaiya now stands on footpath of the capital's Farmgate area since evening and keeps waiting for clients.


"Sometimes, I get client just after the sunset. On the other hand, I have to wait till late night for client," the teenage girl was talking to the correspondent at Farmgate intersection on a cold evening of first week of January.


This is not a story of a single Sumaiya, rather hundreds of girl children in Bangladesh are forced to involve with child prostitution by different familial and societal factors.


Though there are no accurate statistics on the extent of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 to 29,000 victims of CSEC in Bangladesh, according to a study of Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) that was launched in 2013.


Child rights activists stressed the need for coordinated efforts of government and non-government bodies to rescue and rehabilitate the children, who are involved with prostitution.


Efforts need to be designed in such a way so that no children are forced to be involved with prostitution and existing children can be rehabilitated and be integrated in the mainstream society, they viewed.


Public awareness is one of the major components to combat child prostitution in Bangladesh and media can play a significant role in building public awareness, the campaigners think.


When attention was drawn, Ministry of Women and Children Affair's Secretary Nasima Begum said the ministry was running a programme for ensuring social protection and rehabilitation of street children.


Under the Street Children Rehabilitation Programme, the government is providing protection, education, and other facilities to theses underprivileged children, she said.


Selina Akhter, deputy director of the Department of Social Services, said the government is operating 85 Shishu Paribar (children's family) for rehabilitating orphan and street children including those who are victim of commercial sexual exploitation.


"On average, around 850 children are rehabilitated in our Shisu Parbars across the country. Many of them are victim of commercial sexual exploitation," she told the correspondent.