Child Rights and Child Victimization Situation in Bangladesh: An Overview

- Md. Nayem Alimul Hyder and Mohammad Iqbal Hasan

child rights

Published On - May 6, 2017 [Vol. 6, Jan - Jun, 2017]

Abstract

According to Article 19 of UNCRC “States Parties shall protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.” Bangladesh has ratified this Convention on child rights. That means Bangladesh has to take essential steps regarding protection of Children rights. Now a day’s violation of child rights and child victimization is a very common affair in Bangladesh. Main objectives of this study are to highlight the current situation of child rights violation in Bangladesh, identify the reasons behind child victimization, evaluate the effectiveness of existing legal instruments regarding protection of child rights and provide possible suggestions to mitigate the challenges. Only secondary data has been used during the time of research. This study has revealed some challenges towards child rights. However it is recommended in the article that the Government of Bangladesh and social organizations must be conscious about the rights of the children.

Keywords: Violation of child rights, Child victimization, Child labor, Child crime, Child oppressions.

Introduction  

Today’s children are the future leaders of the nation. Child victimization is a serious concern in contemporary Bangladesh. Rapid increasing rate in child victimization in Bangladesh and other developing country is common and becomes alarming issue in the society. We see hundred of incidents related to child victimization are published in newspapers, broadcasted in television and discussed in print media. We are being experienced by knowing horrible news regarding child victimization in every day. Children in Bangladesh are in very vulnerable group who become easily targeted. Child victimization situation in Bangladesh is becoming worsened by passing of time. It seems lack of social security, improper implementation of child rights is responsible to protect child rights and avoid child victimization in Bangladesh.

Methodology

This Paper is descriptive and suggestive in nature. It was almost difficult to do wide fieldwork because of lack of time and opportunity. This paper is based on secondary data collected from UNCRC, text-books, journals, Newspaper, websites. The collected data have been processed and prepared in the present form in order to make the study more informative, analytical and useful for the users.

Who is a Child?

According to Article 1 of UNCRC a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier. The Convention defines a ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adulthood even less. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body for the Convention, has encouraged States to review the age of majority if it is set below 18 and to increase the level of protection for all children under 18. Bangladesh has modified Children  Act 2013 that defines “child as a person below the age of 18 years”.

Child Rights

All rights spelled out by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child deals with the special circumstances and needs of children and now their rights must thus be protected. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention and opened it for signature on 20 November 1989 (the 30th anniversary of its Declaration of the Rights of the Child).[6] It came into force on 2 September 1990, after it was ratified by the required number of nations. Currently, 196 countries are party to it, including every member of the United Nations except the United States.

Types of Child Rights

Children have two types of human rights under international human rights law. Firstly, they have the same fundamental general human rights as adults, although some human rights, such as the right to marry, are dormant until they are of age, Secondly, they have special human rights that are necessary to protect them during their minority. General rights operative in childhood include the right to security of the person, to freedom from inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment, and the right to special protection during childhood. Particular human rights of children include, among other rights, the right to life, the right to a name, the right to express his views in matters concerning the child, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to health care, the right to protection from economic and sexual exploitation, and the right to education.

Contents of UNCRC

The Convention deals with the child-specific needs and rights. It requires that states act in the best interests of the child. This approach is different from the common law approach found in many countries that had previously treated children as possessions or chattels, ownership of which was sometimes argued over in family disputes. In many jurisdictions, properly implementing the Convention requires an overhaul of child custody and guardianship laws, or, at the very least, a creative approach within the existing laws. The Convention acknowledges that every child has certain basic rights, including the right to life, his or her own name and identity, to be raised by his or her parents within a family or cultural grouping, and to have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated. The Convention obliges states to allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities. The Convention also acknowledges that children have the right to express their opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon when appropriate, to be protected from abuse or exploitation, and to have their privacy protected, and it requires that their lives not be subject to excessive interference. The Convention also obliges signatory states to provide separate legal representation for a child in any judicial dispute concerning their care and asks that the child’s viewpoint be heard in such cases. The Convention forbids capital punishment for children.

Salient Feature of the Bangladesh Child Act 2013

The new act abolishes the early Child Act 1974. The Child Act 2013 features 11 chapters and 100 sections. The act recognizes some organizations and members and mentions about their responsibilities.

Probation Officer: According to the act, the government will appoint one or more Probation Officer/s in the district, upazila and metropolitan areas. (Section 6)

Child Welfare Board: A National Child Welfare Board will be formed. The minister of the Ministry of Social Welfare will be the chairperson of the board. Boards at the district and upazila levels will also be formed. District Commissioner and Upazila Ibrahim Officer (sub-district executive officer) will be the presidents of the boards respectively. (section 7)

Child Help Desk: Under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Child Help Desks will be formed in police stations all over the country. An officer, ranked sub-inspector or above, will look after the desk. The act specifies responsibilities of the designated police officer. (section 13)

Charge Sheet: The act specifies about submitting charge sheet against children. According to the act, a single charge sheet consisting of adults and children cannot be submitted.

Juvenile Court: At least one juvenile court will be formed in district or metropolitan area. If a case is filed against a child, whatever crimes s/he committed, the juvenile court will try him/her. (section 16)

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Probation officer with the participation of appropriate persons from society to take steps to settle the dispute between the victim and the child who has committed the offence. (section 37)

Arrest: According to the act, whatever the circumstance is, child aged below nine cannot be arrested. If a child above nine is being arrested, law enforcers cannot apply handcuffs and rope around waist to the child. (section 44)

Sentence: Individual/s will be sentenced with maximum five- year imprisonment or a penalty of Tk five lakh or both, if a child is being abused in criminal activities.

Role of Media: Media is prohibited to publish articles, photographs and information that go against a child under trial. (section 81)

Child Victimization

 Victimization is the process, action and fact of being victimized or becoming a victim. Child experiencing mental and physical harm in the process of victimization is defined child victimization. The World Health Organization refers Child victimization, referred to as child abuse and neglect, includes all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation that results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity. Within this broad definition, five subtypes can be distinguished – physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect and negligent treatment; emotional abuse; and exploitation.

Children become victims when they experience involuntary physical, sexual, or emotional injuries, loss, or death at the hands of another human being, or when they are threatened by such actions against themselves. Children may be victimized by adults and other children, by family members (parents, siblings, other relatives), by friends and acquaintances, and by strangers.

Types of Child Victimization

Violence against children and youths has always occurred, but it has recently been subject to increased public attention. This heightened attention is spawned by high-profile cases of stranger abductions, sexual assault, child abuse, child trafficking and child homicide, and by statistics suggesting an increase in the number of cases of child victimization. Child Victimization is mainly two types-fatal abuse and non fatal abuse. Child victimization includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, molestation, neglecting, pinching etc. Physical abuse of a child is defined as those acts of commission by a caregiver that cause actual physical harm or have the potential for harm. Physical abuse means intentional use of physical force against the child that results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in harm for the child’s health, survival, development or dignity. Emotional abuse includes the failure of a caregiver to provide an appropriate and supportive environment, and includes acts that have an adverse effect on the emotional health and development of a child. Sexual abuse is defined as those acts where a caregiver uses a child for sexual gratification. Neglect refers to the failure of a parent to provide for the development of the child – where the parent is in a position to do so – in one or more of the following areas: health, education, emotional development, nutrition, shelter and safe living conditions.

Typology of Child Victim

Kidnapped Child: The number of child kidnapping  is increasing frighteningly day by day in Bangladesh. Every day we see many incident of child kidnapping  in newspaper.

Trafficked Child: Child trafficking is the process which results exploitation of child. The children trafficking mainly for the purpose of forced labour, Commercial Sexual Abuse (CSE), Illegal adoption racket, armed conflict, organ trade and medical testing and other crimes.

Missing Child: A missing child means disappeared child whose status as alive or dead cannot be confirmed as his or her location and fate are unknown.

Street Child: Street children are deprived from their rights such as, right to education and other facilities. Often they involve in local street crime like hijacking, pick pocketing, drug trafficking and help criminals by giving particular information. Homeless children are more victimized than average children.

Beggar Child: We often see that, children aged below five  are used for begging, the number of which is also increasing.

Neglected Child: Neglected children are also victim. Child neglect is the failure of a parent or other person with responsibility for the child to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm.

Abused Child: Abused child is a victim of physical abuse, emotional abuse or sexual abuse. Physical abuse includes hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating. Much physical violence against children in the home is inflicted with the object of punishing.

Addicted Child: Addicted children are also victim. Addicted children frequently involve in various criminal activities and criminal association to manage drugs. Sometimes they commit fatal offenses when they are in addicted situation. For example, Oishi was addicted child. She killed her parents because her father opposed her to take drug.

Child of Broken Family: Child learns by observation and by imitation. Every broken family has many family crises. Violence and abusive behavior are main elements of family crisis. Parents who model abusive behavior at home, that creates a cycle of violence and teaches children to grow up to be abusive adults.

Juvenile Offender: Juvenile offender is also victim. Children often engage in delinquency for various reasons. Juvenile offenders become isolated in the society within very short time. They don’t get space from the society for a new start and giving up their unqualified behaviour.  If we look at their past experiences, it would be discoverer that they are suffering from traumatic injury, distress, anxiety, lack of parental or family care and addiction.

Girl Child: Girl child is often victim from her birth for gender crisis. Beside this, girl becomes victim for sexual abuse, molestation by family members, cousins, family friends, teacher and friends. Girls are at higher risk than boys for infanticide, sexual abuse, educational and nutritional neglect, and forced prostitution.

Abandoned Child: Abandoned child are also victim as they are deprived from their parental care and family. Often child are abandoned after being born. They don’t know their parents name. They suffer for identification crisis.

Transgender Child: Transgender child is also victim of gender crisis from their birth. Often transgender children are abandoned by their parents. They grow up without family care, in a homeless situation. Our society system does not provide enough room for growing up a transgender child in common way. Transgender child has to hear pinching from other cohabitants of the society.

Worker Child: Worker child is frequently victim of physical and mental torture in the workplace. Sometimes, worker children suffer sexual abuse when engaged in house hold service.

Scope of Child Victimization

By Peer Group: Children are often victimized by various peer groups. These are: victimization in workplace, school violence, bullying and pinching by companions and gang violence.

By Seniors: Senior groups often oppresses juniors in various situation by bullying and pinching, such as in residential school system, which produces scope of child victimization.

By Parents: Now a day, children are victimized by the parents. Even mother kills her children. Moreover, parents neglect and abandoned their children.

By Family Setting: Family setting is also responsible for child victimization. Children are frequently victim of physical and emotional abuse by family members. Girl child is repeatedly sexually abused by the family friend i.e. friend of a family member. Family setting includes parents, family members, and family friends.

By School Setting: Children suffer physical pain, emotional and sexual abuse in the school setting. They become victim of psychological harassment by their both school mates and teachers. School setting includes teaching stuffs, other stuffs, class mates, school mates, atmosphere of school and teaching methods.

By Neighborhood Setting: Neighborhood setting is a potential scope of victimization. At present, neighbors are involving in child victimization such as, child kidnap. A neighbor is in better position to know the life style of child that helps him / her to victimize the child easily e.g. in Sylhet a child name “Rajon” was tortured and killed by the neighbors.

By Addicted Persons: Addicted persons are also targeting children for various reasons, kidnapping is one of them.

By Relatives: Relatives of the child’s family can target the child for taking revenge on that family.

By Employer: Many Employers torture child worker in workplace. Recently, in Khulna district an employer has killed a child worker by torturing, pumping the child from backside, that caused death of that child.

By Powerful Persons: It is a common factor of our society that, powerful persons abuse their power and sometimes children become victim for their misuse of power. e.g. recently a child had been shot twice on his leg by the local Member of Parliament.

By Negligence: By negligent activities of local people and authority children are victimized. Such as, it is often seen that manhole is coverless in a densely populated area for day after day and no local authority looks after it. Child can be victim for such negligence. For example, a child name Ziyad had fallen in to a pipe, when the child was rescued it was found dead.

Causes and Factors Related to Child Victimization

Poverty: Poverty is a big cause of child victimization. Because of poverty child has to go to work for earning money. And in work place child get victimized by the employer and other employees.

Family Climate: Family climate situation is a considerable factor for child victimization. Family characteristics affect on child’s mind, which causes child suffering distress, traumatic injury, psychological imbalance, drug addiction, involved in delinquency and crimes.

Extra Marital Relationship: Increasing rate of extramarital relationship causes child victimization. Child becomes victim for the parents’ extra marital affair. Even in some cases mother helped to kill her child to hide her extra marital affair with other guy.

Revenge: Revenge is another cause of child victimization. Sometimes, relatives or neighbors targets child for revenge and when they are not able to take revenge on the main person then target child as child is the weak person of family. In Narayon Ganj, Takki, a child, whose father claimed that Takki was murdered to get revenge from him.

Residence: Residence is a vital factor in case of child victimization. Maximum child victimization incidents happen in densely populated area.

Life Style: Where the child lives, when goes to outside, in which school child studies, where the school is situated, all are the part of life style of a child. Life style of child is also considerable factor of being victimization. Such as, a girl child who goes outside or work place at night is in more vulnerable danger situation of victimization than a girl child goes outside at day time.

Association: Association of the child is an important factor. Association affects most on the child behavior. Association can involve child in drug addiction, juvenile delinquency and other crime. Very recently, “Ami Zunyed Bolchi” named YouTube uploaded video has made stir that how child can be victimized by his/ her association.

Lack Social Security: The Most important thing is social security. Lack of social security is one of the main reasons of child victimization.

Consequences

Child victimization causes suffering to children and families and can have long-term consequences. Child Victimization causes stress that is associated with disruption in early brain development. Extreme stress can impair the development of the nervous and immune systems. Consequently, as adults, maltreated children are at increased risk for behavioural, physical and mental health problems such as: perpetrating or being a victim of violence, depression, smoking, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviours, unintended pregnancy, and alcohol and drug misuse. Passing through these behavioural and mental health consequences, maltreatment can contribute to heart disease, cancer, suicide and sexually transmitted infections.  Beyond the health and social consequences of child maltreatment, there is an economic impact, including costs of hospitalization, mental health treatment, child welfare, and longer-term health costs.

Why Child Victimization Is Increasing

Various immoral conducts of our society are exposed through the number of Child victimization even Child Homicide is day by day. There are mainly two points of view responsible for the increasing number of child victimization. They are external point of view and another is internal point of view.

External Point of View

Easy Victimization: Child can be victimized easily as child is easier to target by criminals. Child’s size is smaller than a man, the preventive power of child lesser, child’s intelligence is also lesser,   child can be lured and seduced easily, child trusts other person quickly, that is why child can be easily victimized by criminals.

Lack of implementing Laws in the Society: Lack of implementing laws is society causes the increase of child victimization. Every day, a lot of child victimization incidents are found in newspaper and television but we don’t find that offenders are punished or even charged in all those cases of child victimization.

Shocking Reasons of Child Homicide

Child is being victimized due to lack of moral education. Addicted persons kidnap child to collect money for buying drugs. To hide extramarital affair parents abuse their children. Even recently the lover of a parent has killed a child to continue their relationship. Relatives and Neighbors have killed children for revenge and property related interests.

Internal Point of View

Lack of Social Security: Lack of social security increases all types of crimes and victimizations. In our country social security is not up to the mark. Because of lack of social security the number of child victimization rate is increasing.

Difference between Rich and Poor increases: The difference between rich and poor is increasing day by day. People run for money and try to earn money in any way. People are reluctant to hold their social values.

Breakdown of Social Control: Social legislation establishes a good social control. When social legislation loses its effectiveness that resulted from loss of social values, then social control is broken down. Social control includes social value, family setting, neighbor setting, school setting, religious setting etc.  Breakdown of social control is a principle cause of child victimization. Values of our society are lost at present. In past record, it was very rare that child is victimized by neighbors, relatives, family friends. But now child are mostly victimized by own family members, neighbors, relatives and even by parents.

Justice less Society: Human desire to establish a just and fair society. But our present society has become justice less society. Huge white collar crimes are committed by one groups of the society, but those criminals are remaining far away from charges and trial. This trend impacts on the other group cohabitants of the society to give up the social values. That extends to produce various types crimes, new crimes, increase rates of crime including child related crimes that increases child victimization.  In a justice less society it is not possible to control any type of crime.

Recommendations

1. Primarily, the State and Society have to work together to decrease child victimization from our society.
2. We have to correct our moral views of children. It is also necessary to amend our social values.
3. Governments should introduce strict law by amending existing laws regarding child to cope with present situation and sternly implement those laws.
4. The Existing Woman and Child Repression Act 2000 should be amended. There should be an individual bare Act in name, “the Child Repression Act” for children only. In every district, Government should establish an individual Tribunal for Child Repression. There should be the provisions in this aforesaid proposed Act that a punishment of not less than death for person/s who commit or abate in child homicide. The trial should be finished within two months.
5. Child Welfare Board should have the power for adjudicating allegations against children in conflict.
6. There should be an independent non judicial forum as contemplated by the CRC to deal with children in conflict with the law.
7. There are needed to add some provisions in Child Act 2013 that use of children for house breaking, pick pocketing, political demonstration or reception of VIPs would be treated as punishable offence.
8. The Government should implement the provisions of The Children Act 2013 especially provision of probation officer, separate court building and proceedings for child trail, without any delay.
9. It is important also to train up the persons concerned in the children justice system so that proper implementation of the new law can be ensured.
10. The judiciary, law enforcing agents and the parents and guardians of children themselves, must be sensitized to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the law protecting children in Bangladesh.

 Conclusion

Children are more at risk for victimization than the adults for several reasons. The child victimization issue is one of the great concerns and has become a severe problem in the developing countries like Bangladesh. The Children Act 2013 finally saw the light of day after a gestation period of about seven years from the recommendation for the new law made by the High Court Division in the case of Roushan Mondal. It is time to take proper actions against child victimization in Bangladesh. Along with the government, different local and international NGOs should organize public awareness, education and rehabilitation programs to upgrade their condition to ensure their secured childhood.

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About The Writer

Article Author Image

Md. Nayem Alimul Hyder and Mohammad Iqbal Hasan

Mr. Hyder is Assistant Professor & Head, Department of Law, Cox’s Bazar International University, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and Mr Hasan is Advocate, Dhaka Judge Court.

E-mail: kishorehasan@rocketmail.com

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