Members of a feminist group take part in an ongoing protest in front of the parliament building in in Dhaka, demanding justice for the incidents of rape. The photo taken on 10 October, 2020
Members of a feminist group take part in an ongoing protest in front of the parliament building in in Dhaka, demanding justice for the incidents of rape. The photo taken on 10 October, 2020Reuters

At least 626 children were “sexually abused” during January-December last year despite the closure of educational institutions and the absence of public gatherings amid the pandemic.

Also, the number of children forced into marriage rose by 60 per cent at that time. And at least 145 children died from rape, attempted rape, murder, abduction, disappearance and torture.

Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) came up with the findings on Saturday at the online press conference “Bangladesh Child Situation 2020.”

MJF reached the conclusion based on the reports of five national Bangla dailies -- Prothom Alo, Jugantar, Daily Samakal, Ittefaq, Kaler Kantho -- and three English dailies -- The Daily Star, New Age and Dhaka Tribune.

The non-governmental organisation also found that children in Bangladesh were not safe even at home, as most rapes were perpetrated by acquaintances within the family and neighbours.

Advertisement

Also, at least 145 children faced murder attempts in 2020 because of family disputes, wrangles over properties, rejection of romantic proposals, protesting injustice, rape and much more.

And 34 children killed themselves because of failing in exams, anger, problems in a relationship, harassment, rape or attempted rape, and cybercrimes or blackmailing.

“According to our analysis, children are not safe in their homes. I would request all the government agencies engaged in child protection to be more responsible and work together for the protection of children’s rights,” said MJF executive director Shaheen Anam.

Women and children affairs ministry joint secretary Md Muhibuzzaman said, “The crisis in child safety is worrying.”

He suggested addressing the existing problems through social mobilisation.

Lawmaker Aroma Dutta highlighted the need for setting up a separate ministry or department on child affairs to work closely for the protection of children’s rights and called on everyone to work together for policy formulation, performance and intensive supervision of work.