Brutality unprecedented
Mohammad Jamil Khan

These are probably the worst times to live and grow up as a child in Bangladesh.

In March, police recovered the dead bodies of two little girls in Chapainawabganj and later found that the hearts were missing from the corpses.

In June 2010, six-year-old Shamiul was killed by his mother and her lover and his body was kept inside a refrigerator in Dhaka.

Those who thought after these incidents that humanity could not stoop any lower, the more recent cases of Rajon, Rakib and the unnamed dead boy stuffed inside a suitcase should give them more reasons to feel ashamed.

Nearly a month have passed, but investigators have yet to press charges for the murder of 12-year-old Rajon which was committed in broad daylight in the outskirts of Sylhet city.

On July 8 morning, claiming that the little boy was a thief, a group of five to six people tied Rajon to a pole and beat him up brutally, leading to his death. In a display of unfathomable audacity, the killers also recorded the incident on a mobile phone camera.

In the following days, police arrested most of the culprits – all of whom have confessed – but have not managed to press charges until yesterday because one of the prime accused, who fled to Saudi Arabia after the incident, could not be repatriated.

The more recent murder of another 12-year-old working child named Rakib in Khulna seems to be straight out of the pages of a psycho thriller.

On Monday, just because the kid had taken a job in another motor garage, his former employer and two other men killed the boy by injecting air through his rectum using a pipe.

In a separate incident one day later in Dhaka, the dead body of an unidentified boy was recovered from an abandoned suitcase in Shahbagh. Police said the boy, aged around 10, was probably a domestic aid. Post mortem reports said there were injury marks all over his body and he was probably sexually assaulted before being killed.

Yesterday, a man named Miraj confessed before a magistrate court in Barguna that he had beaten a 11-year-old boy named Rabiul. Police recovered the little boy’s body from the banks of a canal in Amkhola village of Taltali upazila in the district on Monday. Rabiul was killed because he allegedly stole Miraj’s fish.

Last month, newborn Magura girl Suraiya proved wrong the old saying that a mother’s womb is the safest place for a child. Not anymore because the infant, who still had more than a month to be born, was hit by a bullet when political criminals shot her pregnant mother.

In a rare breakthrough, a court in Rangpur yesterday sentenced a man to death for killing a schoolboy in December 2013. Convict Bande Ali, 50, killed his employer’s tenth grader son Ratan Chandra Roy because the boy had seen him stealing their cattle and for that he lost his job.

Yesterday, police in Munshijanj arreted a man named Abul Hossain, 45, for the killing of his 15-year-old daughter Sumaiya just because she had an affair with a young man from their village. Six months ago, the girl’s skeleton was found inside a sack in Sholoani village in Gazaria upazila of the district. Abul confessed during interrogation that he had killed his daughter.

These two incidents are only exceptions and therefore should not give the idea that law enforcers solve child murder cases everyday.

Data compiled by Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) and Terre des Hommes Netherlands (TdH-NL) shows that as many as 968 children were killed in the last three and a half years across the country. Among them, 191 child were killed only in the first seven months of this year.

In fact, apart from the Rangpur verdict, none of the other 967 cases have seen trials completed, let alone anyone getting punished.

Even police have said that recent spike in brutality against children is unprecedented.

Farida Yeasmin, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s women protection wing, told the Dhaka Tribune: “At present, we are witnessing more brutality against children than ever before probably because people have lost their respect for law.”

The data compiled by police headquarters also shows that there has been an overall rise in child repression. A total of 10,324 cases has been registered under the woman and child repression act in the last six months across the country.

BSAF Director AS Mahmood said: “There are economic and social reasons behind such brutalities. In most cases, the poor and the weak are the worst sufferers. In almost all the cases, the abusers turn out to be the one with the muscles and nothing happen to them even if their crimes are obvious. Many are brutalising children just for pleasure.”

According to data provided by rights body Manusher Jonno Foundation, as many as 201 children were killed and 70 raped in the first six month of this year.

Prof Zia Rahman, chairman of Dhaka University’s criminology department, explains: “People are now entering the era of globalisation. Newer styles and techniques of brutalising children are being applied along with the process of rapid urbanisation.

“If authorities cannot ensure exemplary punishment for the accused, soon things will be difficult to control,” he warned.

Monirul Islam, chief of police’s Detective Branch (DB), thinks that only punishing the culprits will not be enough.

“This is not just a question of punishment. Social and family values have to be highlighted through awareness raising programmes. People must be encouraged to come forward in helping their neighbours at times of distress.”

Unicef’s statement

In a statement issued yesterday, the United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) expressed alarm at the recent spike in violence against children in Bangladesh.

“UNICEF strongly believes that the Government of Bangladesh will do everything within its power to bring perpetrators to justice and help to end such violence against children.

“It is important to note that due to the pervasive and proactive media coverage on child rights issues, incidences of child abuse, beating and even killing are now coming under sharp focus,” said Unicef representative Edouard Beigbeder.

JS body’s suggestions

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Women and Children Affairs Ministry yesterday suggested the government to ensure exemplary punishment for the culprits of the recent incidents of child repressions and killings.

At its 15th meeting at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, the committee also suggested the ministry concerned to taken stern actions against the oppressors and rapists. 

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