Incidents of child rape have marked a sharp rise by a staggering 89.56 per cent in the last 10 months compared to the same period a year ago.
At least 902 children were raped in the last 10 months this year. The number was 571 in 2018, 593 in 2017, 446 in 2016 and 521 in 2015, according to a report of Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF).
In most of the cases of violence against children, the perpetrators go unpunished due to slack application of laws which is also blamed for the sharp in child rapes.
Talking to the Daily Sun, BSAF Director Abdus Shahid Mahmood identified lack of exemplary punishment, awareness, and decay of social values in the present society as major reasons for increasing child rape incidents.
“Speedy investigation and strict punishment to the criminals need to be ensured through speedy trial to reduce such gruesome crimes,” he said.
“We are very alarmed at the rate of these kinds of incidents”, he said, urging the authorities to amend the law with a provision for death by hanging as punishment for the rapist of children.
The rights activists also said most of the rapists are from the powerful family as the family members of victims are often reluctant to come to the court to testify due to fear. “Formulation of a law is needed to protect the witnesses.”
“As a result, they are consistently becoming easy victims of all sorts of violence including rape and other forms of sexual abuse,” he noted.
BSAF data also show that at least 95 children were victims of gang-rape in the last 10 months. The number was 94 in 2018, 70 in 2017, and 68 in 2016.
At least 122 children were victims of attempts to rape during the period, up from 96 in 2018, 72 in 2017, 74 in 2016 and 72 in 2015.
A total of 190 children fell victim to sexual harassments in the last 10 months. The number was 87 in 2018, 90 in 2017, 60 in 2016 and 73 in 2015.
At least 36 children were killed after rape in the last 10 months, up from 60 in 2018, 22 in 2017, 21 in 2016 and 30 in 2015.
At least 38 disabled children were also raped during the period, up from 28 in 2018, 44 in 2017 and 42 in 2016.
Statistics also show that 10 children committed suicide after rape over the last 10 months where it was six in last year, seven in 2017, two in 2016 and four in 2015.
At least 19 children were victims of pornography during the period while the number was 15 in 2018, 26 in 2017, and 15 in 2016.
Rights activists urged the government to take effective measures to ensure speedy trial of incidents of violence against children for delivering exemplary punishment to the criminals.
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.
“The incident of violence is taking place one after another in the society as the miscreants somehow come out through the loopholes of the law,” he said.
He demanded for the formation of a special tribunal is the demand of the day for quick disposal of the cases for giving exemplary punishment to the culprits in a bid to curb the menace.
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 like rape as offenders usually roam scot-free in society although there is strong law.”