There appears to be no respite from violence against children which is heartbreaking as well as difficult to cover.
The children are subjected to different forms of abuses while the abusers often go unpunished due to slack application of laws.
According to the data, the incidents of violence against children were significantly high in number in the outgoing year compared to that a year ago.
The alarming rise in brutalities against children has triggered a grave concern among human rights activists as well as common people.
The activists identified lack of justice, culture of impunity, family dispute and lack of awareness among people to be the major reasons for violence against children.
According to the statistics available with the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), at least 418 children were murdered across the country in 2018 which is up 23.30 percent from the previous year.
At least, 339 children were killed in 2017, 265 in 2016, and 292 in 2015 in the country.
At least, 4,566 children fell victim to different types of brutalities in 2018, up 18.75 percent from the previous year. The number was 3,845 in 2017.
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque said NHRC was not satisfied with the overall status of children’s safety in the country despite improvement in some areas.
He said violence against children cannot continue this way.
“We want an end to child marriage in the country and no child will become a victim of rape.”
Addressing a recent programme, Kazi Reazul Hoque also stressed the need for setting up a directorate and a national commission to deal with the issues of child rights in the country.
The data shows that the incidents of child rape are also taking place across the country. At least 571 children were raped in 2018. The number was 593 in 2017, 446 in 2016, 521 in 2015, and 199 in 2014.
A least, 38 incidents of child marriage were reported last year while 134 children averted it through the government intervention.
The use of corporal punishment in schools was prevalent despite the government various initiatives to stop this.
A total of 262 children suffered from violence and torture including corporal punishment last year compared to 271 in 2017.
Some 627 children were killed in road accidents in the outgoing year which is up by 75.63 percent from pervious year as the number was 357 in 2017, 252 in 2016.
A total of 46 children died due to wrong treatment by doctors and negligence of the authorities concerned last year where the number was 35 in 2017.
According to the data, some 233 children went missing while 150 others were abducted in 2018 and 136 rescued after kidnap. But 177 children were abducted, and 188 went missing in previous year.
At least 396 children were injured in different incidents, including road accidents and attempted murder last year. The number was 231 in 2017.
The rights activists urged the government to take effective measures to ensure speedy trial of incidents of violence against children, exemplary punishment to the culprits.
Parents should be more cautious to stop sexual violence against children, they said, calling upon the development organisations to strengthen their awareness campaign to check such violence.
Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) Executive Director Mostafa Sohel Ahmed said social crisis, moral and social degradation and culture of impunity are mainly responsible for the rise in violence against children.
“Culprits are not being punished. For this reason, the incidents of violence are taking place one after another,” he said.
According to the right activist, formation of special tribunal is the order of the day for quick disposal of the cases for giving exemplary punishment to the culprits in a bid to curb the menace.
BSAF Director Abdus Shahid Mahmood termed lack of justice and lack of awareness among people and victims the major reasons for violence against children.
“Speedy investigation by skilled police officer and strict punishment to the criminals need to be ensured to reduce violence.”
He added that they made the report based on newspaper reports but the actual number of incidents of violence against children could be higher as many such incidents go unreported.
Analysing the reasons behind the murder, they found that in most cases, children were murdered over trivial matters, family or conjugal dispute, dowry, extramarital affair and enmity, he added.
Human rights lawyer Advocate Salma Ali said: “Violence against children continues unabated like the previous years as no children-friendly environment exists.”
Salma, also former executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association, said: “The culprits escape punishment due to backlog of cases and it encourages them to commit crimes again and again.”
The rights activist said: “Law enforcers have failed miserably to take proper measures to stop violence against children as offenders usually roam scot-free in society although there is strong law.”
Mentioning the lack of coordination in stopping violence against women and children, she said: “A mutual cell is needed for coordination.”