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No country for young boys

  • Published at 12:24 pm October 3rd, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:41 am October 4th, 2017
No country for young boys
Bicycles, rickshaws, and fish are important things in life. Especially for low-income families. For some, it is their source of income. So don’t be surprised if a 13-year-old boy is tied up to a pole, beaten to death, and filmed by scores of people because there is suspicion that he has stolen a bike or a rickshaw (reports are still not clear). That brutal, disturbing footage surfaced on the internet in July 2015. People were outraged, everyone was scarred -- everyone with a conscience, at least. Even the people who have underage children work as domestic help and occasionally (or frequently) beat them when the situation presents itself to “teach a lesson” -- even they were outraged. I admit I did chuckle at their outrage, but I did so discreetly and I didn’t entirely mean it. They are not the same monsters as the ones who publicly lynch 13-year-old boys over allegations of theft. They are the more sophisticated, undoubtedly more educated, and somewhat of better class monsters. We prefer our monsters to be a certain way, really. On a sick loop On September 25, a 17-year-old boy was tied to a pole, beaten to death, and also filmed. He allegedly stole fish, which we know is extremely important in life, in fact, its significance and value exceed well over the value of a teenager who collects rubbish to sell and earn his daily bread. This news, however, did not invoke public outcry. Actually, it didn’t even make it to mainstream media. I wonder if it was because of the age of the victim, or that the shock value of the news story has softened to the point of our collective acceptance. In fact, CNN reported in August 2015 (back when such outrage was alive and kicking) that four boys had been tortured and killed over the span of five weeks in Bangladesh, aged between 10 and 17. So are we now accepting of this barbaric act of torture? Do we think it is unfortunate, but not surprising, that such young boys who live in slums and have the poorest of parents face such a fate? It’s common now, is it?
The shock value has dwindled to a record low and some feel exhausted to even pretend to be outraged
Outrage is important. The collective disgust and rejection of such brutality is important because otherwise, we are just telling these unfortunate souls that they had it coming because of their age and impoverished social class. We also have to take into account the fact that not all such beatings, torture, and deaths reach the media and/or police. The ones we already know about is a result of a few unlucky perpetrators who failed to get away with having some fun. Well, their kind of sick, distorted fun, but fun nonetheless. Because not always do these incidents have to involve allegations of theft, in case of a 10-year-old boy who worked in a textile factory in Bangladesh, who had other workers insert a high-pressure nozzle into his rectum (for fun) which resulted in his premature death in July 2016. You see, we live in a sick world. We live in a society where such acts not just take place, but repeat over and over again like in a tired, but fun loop. Tired because the audience, the spectator, the newspaper readers, and the general mass at large are tired of such kind of news. Tired because the shock value has dwindled to a record low and some, at this point, feel exhausted to even pretend to be outraged. Fun because the perpetrators have fun. And still carry the guts to engage in their sick pleasures even after the arrest of some of the same kinds of perpetrators. Moreover, it is not just the perpetrators. If you look closely and go over the grainy videos of the beatings that are on the internet, you will find, without fail, a smirk here and there from the bystanders. Sometimes, even a chuckle. What’s the sick secret? Why is it like that, though? Is it the power trip or fulfillment of a vague sense of revenge? Were the perpetrators of these incidents beaten like this too? Does it make them feel strong and in control of a life? Or is it the sick joy of being superior to the child in ropes, so much so that it leads them to let out their anger and frustration in life in one blow after the other, till there is none to give? What is it really? Why do such monsters run scot-free amongst us? The answer to the last question could be: Collective sickness. We can be outraged or not after we see such clips of the live show. Either way, it is too late to save the child. But what about the spectators who watch the show live? Why don’t they come forward? Fear? Fear that they too will be tied to a pole, beaten, and filmed? But it isn’t as easy to do that to adults, is it? Some form of protest may have saved those children. So, why the silence? Why do we sit idle when a shirtless young boy is slapped repeatedly by a woman, possibly the ring leader of the beggars on Banani 11? An internal affair? So I thought, and even the traffic policeman who stood by, thought so too. What about the young boys beaten in DCC markets or Doja over allegations of theft? Do we stop for them? Do we intervene? Or leave it to the police (when there is none around)? This isn’t about putting an end to child labour, because that is a whole different article. This is about our collective outrage (or lack thereof), about how much we stand by, about how much we fail children (who are, in the context of socio-economic status, disposable), about how we nurture a sick mind and turn into a monster too, just a better dressed, more educated, and less obvious one. This is about Rajon (13), Sagar Borman (10), and Sagar Ahmed (17) who had lost lives in barbaric ways for petty reasons. This is about understanding that progress cannot really be made with such monsters out on the loose, Digital Bangladesh cannot really be achieved without addressing the psyche of such psychopaths (who are mostly ordinary citizens), and that our collective silence costs lives. Nusmila Lohani is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. 
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