Child rights governance | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:00 AM, April 10, 2018

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Child rights governance

At present, in Bangladesh, violation against child rights is menacing phenomena. Children from all classes are facing various forms of physical, sexual and psychological torture and abuse. In order to, protect children from all sorts of violence and torture and ensuring their rights, Bangladesh has ratified many international conventions to translate those legal provisions into national system. In reality, this remains a high ambition, due to the absence of systematic institutions, and capacity.

Bangladesh has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Children (UNCRC) in 1990, and made commitment to fulfill the rights of the Bangladeshi children. The Government of Bangladesh has attempted to implement and apply the principles and provision of the UNCRC in protecting the rights of the child. Despite numerous efforts made by the Government of Bangladesh, till now a large number of children are victim of violence. However, one remarkable outcome is the enactment of the new Children Act, 2013, and this law has reflected on some of the provisions of the UNCRC. The age of the children has increased from 16 to 18 but yet, no initiative has taken for harmonising the definition of 'children' in different national laws. Not having the rules of the Act, implication of this Act is not in practice yet and thus it is losing its credibility.

In the light of the UNCRC provision, this Children Act 2013 has aimed for some ambitious initiatives such as- the formation of the Child Welfare Boards at all level of the country, setting up of Child's Affairs Desk at the police station, and appointment of the relevant officials, children courts, family institutional care and few more. Realistically, it requires substantial administrative set up, trained human resources, and strong financial support.

Currently, lack of coordination among different government ministries is a major barrier for the implementation of any of this Children Act 2013. At present, there is no separate children directorate. The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MoWCA) coordinating 23minsitries/ divisions dealing with children related issues. It is extremely difficult for the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs to coordinate with this large number of various ministries / divisions within their present administrative and budgeting capacity. Nonetheless, again the government has essentially agreed to establish a separate directorate but execution plan seems not to be coming soon because of the election.

Absence of institutional accountability, lack of coordination, systematic monitoring mechanism are major barrier not only of the implementation of the Children Act, 2013, these are hindering the existing legal practices. Severe delays at the legislative and judicial procedure failing to provide exemplary punishment to the perpetrators.

As per The Daily Star report, from 2001 to 2015 22,386 women and children received treatment form the one stop crisis center being victim of either rape or other forms of violence. This led to 5,003 legal cases being filed, and simply 820 cases got verdict and among these number of cases merely 101 perpetrators received punishments. A large number of the recipients' children of the one stop crisis center even did not report any legal cases against perpetrators.

It is high time actions are needed to strengthen the child right governance in Bangladesh to protect the rights of the child.

The writer is Manager, Civil Society and Policy Advocacy, Save the Children, Bangladesh

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