Child rape seems to have become unstoppable
Almost on a regular basis our media are carrying news reports of raping of innocent child girls, many of whom are also often killed after being raped. Children are probably the most neglected members of our society and hardly have any voice, even inside home. As a result, they are consistently becoming easy victims of all sorts of violence including rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
According to Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), a total of 496 children were raped in the first six months of this year and of them, 53 were gang-raped. 27 out of the 496 children were physically challenged while 23 children were killed after rape. Besides, 74 children were made victims of attempted rape in the last six months. This depicts a frightening picture. And the actual number of rapes could be much higher as many such incidents remain unreported.
The menacing trend also hints to the moral degradation to have taken place in our society's collective psyche. When thousands of children are being raped and abused every year, we can no longer pretend that this is not a systemic or societal issue. But it is not only that; the culture of impunity that has been established over the years--where rapists escaped justice because they were connected to influential quarters--is another reason why criminals commit such egregious crimes without a second thought, believing that they too will not be punished. That law enforcers and other concerned authorities often fail to give full support to the victims--refusing to file rape cases, for instance--doesn't help either.
In Bangladesh a large number of children are deprived of their basic human rights due to unacceptable health, nutrition and education as well as social conditions. In addition, children are exposed to severe forms of physical and mental violence at home, in the work place, in institutions and other public places. The nature and extent of violence against children irrespective of age, sex and class has been increasing day by day. On the whole, our children are not safe.
When the rule of law is absent, perpetrators remain unaffected, especially when the authorities concerned respond in a way that does not protect the underprivileged victims. Stricter laws and more vigorous enforcement might help, but they are not enough. It is time for the government to adopt tough legal measures to prosecute child sexual abuse cases so that we are able to protect our future generations.
Finally, it is disturbing to note that at least a dozen sensational child rape cases in the first half of this year have stirred the public morale. Countrywide protests, demonstrations, holding of human chains, increasing social awareness all seems to be failing to protect our children. We are worried.