A poem by a young girl named Yesmine from Norway, “you are very important, you are the lady of the future—” (UNDP,2001) tries to make awareness among those people who always neglect the abilities and potentialities of girl child and violate their basic rights as a human being, as a child and as a future of a nation. Children all over the world are not getting their legal rights and girls child are in the most vulnerable site.In Bangladesh there are approximately 58 million children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years. It is more than 45 percent of country’s entire population and more than half of them are girls.(U.S. Department of State ,March, 2006) In Bangladesh, much progress has been made to protect and promote adolescent girls and girl children’s rights in recent times. Now a day the government launching many laws and facilities regarding girl’s right. But still now most of girls are found in continuous victimization of violence, deprivation of basic human needs and rights.
Bangladesh and girl child right:
“CONNECTING GIRLS, INSPIRING FUTURES” is the theme of ensuing International Women’s Day, 8th March, 2012.So the awareness for girls child right is getting more significant to the government and people of our country. For the social norms and values girls are more vulnerable for all sorts of discrimination than boys in our society, even few years ago the situation was much difficult for girls, people could hardly think of girls right separately, but the world is concerning about the rights of girls child, Bangladesh government has also taken many steps to preserve girl child right. As a result Bangladesh was one of the first countries to sign the CRC (convention on the right of children) on January 26, 1990 and it completed the accession of CRC on August 3, 1990. September 2, 1991 was a historical day for Bangladesh because CRC was ratified by Bangladesh parliament with two third majorities. Bangladesh has accepted all of the provisions of the Convention. Government has declared the 2001-2010 as Child Rights Decade to raise awareness about child rights among the people. Shishu Academy was formed and the Women Ministry was turned into Women and Children Affairs Ministry in 1994.
There are about 10 government ministries concerned with the welfare and the rights of children including the Ministries of Women and Children Affairs, Health and Family Welfare, and Education. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) is a main mechanism established in 1994 in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the CRC. MoWCA is also responsible for monitoring of a National Plan of Action (NPA) for girl Child. The objective of NPA is to develop the situation of girl child, working in mainly six sectors: basic education; health and nutrition; water and environmental sanitation; children in need of special protection; social integration, participation and cultural affairs; and information and communication. ( BANBEIS, November 2oo2)
The Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act (2000, amended 2003) was passed to replace the 1995 Control of Oppression of Women and Children Act. The new act lays down severe penalties for various kinds of violent offenses against children and women including rape, sexual harassment, acid throwing, dowry violence, kidnapping and detention for ransom.
The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, as the lead Ministry of the Government, formulated 3rd National Plan of Action for Children (2004 -2009) to ensure fulfillment of the Government commitments for the overall development of the children in accordance with the provisions of Bangladesh Constitution, CRC, CEDAW, SAARC Conventions and the National Children Policy.
In 2011 “ jatio shushi niti 2011” passed by the women and children affairs , where the right of girls child are preserved separately and under 18 years all boys and girls are categorized as children. In our constitution the of rights of girls are ensured in many articles. These conferences and their objectives were the inspirations for the government for the Millennium Declaration in 2000, and the adoption of the MDG s.
Our government is trying for the better future of the girls child in our country, including the percentage of Child marriage, trafficking, sexual abuse, rape, acid throwing and other forms of exploitation, as well as child labor and child prostitution which are still high in our country. As we know right has four principles, these are:
So when our government is enforcing any law for girl’s right it should be respectively exercise all over the country, if not then no more showing laws will make any result. So implementation is necessary to protect the right rather than to just make the laws which are happening most in our country. If we want to measure the success of our government in implementing the girls child right, we have to locate the major sites where the girl child of our country are more vulnerable for their gender and sex. Some of these issues are discussing below: Education:
The proportion of girls attending primary and secondary school in Bangladesh has risen dramatically in recent years. This trend has eliminated the bias against girls in attendance, enrollment, retention, and completion in primary schools. The data now show that girls are ahead of boys in all of these indicators at the primary level. At the secondary level, girls outnumber boys throughout the cycle (Grades 6-10), and the secondary school net attendance ratio was 38.8 percent, with girls having much higher net secondary attendance than boys (41.4 per cent versus 36.2 per cent) but dropout rates are higher for girls after Grade 6, and far fewer girls complete Grade 10 than do boys (16.7 per cent versus 23.5 per cent), (National Plan of Action for Children – Bangladesh (DRAFT – 22 June 2005).
The Female Secondary School Stipend Project (FSP) in Bangladesh was established in 1982 to increase the enrollment of girls in secondary schools. The Bangladesh Association for Community Education (BACE), a national non-governmental organization (NGO), initiated and implemented this project.
Primary school girl
Government focuses on capabilities would mean a stronger contribution of girls’ school enrollment Target 3(A) Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 to the greater Millennium Development Goal (MDG): promote gender equality and empower women (goal 3).
Bangladesh has made impressive strides in a relatively short time in terms of achieving gender parity at both primary and secondary levels. The country has now surpassed target 4: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary school of the gender-related MDG 3 (Promote gender equality and empower women). Primary school enrollment has increased for girls 84% and boys 81%.The figures for the first decades of the 21st century are vastly different: in the primary sector, gender parity in enrollment has been achieved, and in 2002, the secondary sector enrollment of girls exceeded the enrollment of boys at 53% according to the below table.
Secondary education, Grade 6–12, 1970 and 2002 Year| Institution| Total| Student| % of girls| | Government| Non-government| | Boys| Girls| |
1970| 180| 6008| 6188| 1266| 266| 17.4|
2002| 327| 17794| 18121| 3967| 4531| 53.3|
Source: BANBEIS, November 2oo2
A number of policy interventions are credited for this dramatic change, including the Food for Education Programme sponsored by World Food Programme, the rise in non-formal education pushed by NGOs, and the increase in formal sector employment opportunities for women and girls that require secondary education, especially the garment sector. In addition, one of the most accredited drivers of this change is the Female Secondary School Stipend Project (FSP). Launched nationally in 1994 and funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the governments of Norway and Bangladesh, the project pays tuition-fees and provides monthly stipends for unmarried rural girls up to class 10 who attend recognized institutions, remain unmarried, maintain at least 75% attendance, and secure at least 45% marks in the annual examinations (a pass requires 35%). In 2005, nearly 2.3 million girls were enrolled in the programme. (WB,2007)
Maternal and child mortality rate:
Bangladesh has made significant progress in girl child survival over the last few decades. UNICEF’s 2008 Countdown to 2015 places Bangladesh among only 16 countries in the world that are on track to achieve MDG 4 on reducing child mortality. Between 1990 and 2006, the country’s annual average rate of reduction in the under-five mortality rate was 4.8; a rate of 3.6 will be required to achieve the MDG in 2015. According to the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) of 2007, the under-five mortality rate per 1,000 live births declined from 88 in 1999-2003 to 65 in 2002-2006, while the infant mortality rate declined from 65 to 52. DHS 2007, girl and boy child mortality result
Source: Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) ,2007
Here the chart shows the mortality rate,the series 1 for boys and series 2 for girls, where girls mortality rates are decreasing. There is widespread ignorance about the health risks faced by girls when they marry at a young age. Young girls face a much higher likelihood of complications during childbirth. This is one reason why maternal mortality rates are so high in Bangladesh, with nearly 350 women dying for every 100,000 live births (World Health Organization 2008).
The BMMS 2010 revealed that the current MMR is 194 deaths per 100,000 live births, a 40 percent decline from the estimate of 322 per 100,000 generated by a similar 2001 survey. Bangladesh appears to be on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) target of reducing the MMR to 143 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015. The rate of decline was at an average of 5.5 percent per year, compared to the average annual rate of reduction of the 5.4 percent required for achieving MDG 5. (World Health Organization 2009).
At age of 12 girl child are getting married
Despite a rising tide of indignation and having a law in place, child marriage still thrives in Bangladesh, pushing girls into a cycle of poverty, illiteracy and serious health problems. According to a report, ‘Empowering Girls: what the Commonwealth can do to end early and forced marriage’, released by Plan International on October 27, 2011 shows that 32 percent of girls in Bangladesh are married off before they are 15.
According to World Bank 80 percent of the girls in Bangladesh get married before they reach the age of 18, which is more shocking (WB, 2011). Bangladesh is one of the five countries with the highest rates of child marriage, the percentage is 66%, which is really very alarming. (WB, 2010)
According to the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929, amended through Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Ordinance 1984, ‘Whoever, being a male below twenty-one years of age, or being a female below eighteen years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one thousand Taka, or with both.’
Early marriage can lead to early childhood/teenage pregnancy, which is associated with adverse health outcomes for the both mother and child.
Dowry-related violence is particularly problematic in Bangladesh. . In 2001, 173 girls and women were killed due to dowry demand with 79 of these victims below the age of 18.(UN,2002)
Girl child labor
Bangladeshi society is widely accepting of child labor, and national legislation on child labor is rarely enforced. Employers who wish to hire children therefore face few constraints.
National surveys indicate that 13 per cent of the country’s children between the ages of 5 and 14 years are working, amounting to nearly 5 million child laborers. The rates of child labor are higher among boys than girls (17.5 per cent versus 8.1 per cent). (NSLF, 2011) National statistics on labor force 0f 2011 showed that, the wages of girls are 10 times lower than the boys.
According to surveys supported by ILO and UNICEF in 2005-2006, Bangladesh has more than 420,000 child domestic workers, and more than three-quarters of them are girls of 9-12 hours a day. In the ILO-supported survey, 19 per cent of child domestic workers said they were slapped or beaten, and 0.8 per cent of the girls reported that they experienced sexual abuse
Prostitution and trafficking in girls:
Bangladesh is considered a zone where many children and women are trafficked and there is little government control over it. Due to their low socio- economic status women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Of an estimated 400,000 street children in Bangladesh, among all street children surveyed, 97.56 percent are boys and 2.44 percent are girls. Nearly 10% girls are forced into prostitution for survival. Street children here face a very tough situation. They live like small boats in very rough waters. The Constitution of Bangladesh forbids torture under Article 35(5) and Section 360,361 & 363 of the Penal Code enforced to protect the children but few results have been seen.
Official estimates suggest that over 13 000 children were trafficked out of the country in the last five years (WB, 2007). As many as 20,000 children are exploited in street prostitution. (Trafficking in Women and Children: The Cases of Bangladesh, UBINIG, 2002) The average age of girls supplied to the brothels has decreased from 14 and 16 years to 10 and 14 years. A girl between 10 and 12 years fetches the highest price. There is the myth that a man can rid himself of sexually transmitted diseases if he sleeps with a virgin hence the fear of HIV/AIDS has increased the demand for virgins and children. So day by day the situation is really becoming alarming for girl child, through there are laws but the government interpretations and enforcement of these laws are lacked most of the times.
Is the success of our government concerning girl child right is real or rhetorical? :
After analyzing all the major sectors that needed to be focus when we talk about girl child right in our country, our government is performing some notable roles regarding issues like education, mortality rate, child nutrition at some extent, the sex ratio (100 female & 103 male) is also positive, female infanticides killing is not found in a wide range. Birth registration is vital for children’s rights, since 2006, the proportion of the population with birth registration has increased from 7 %to 52% but other sectors like child marriage, child labor, trafficking and prostitution are needed more attention.
There are some other issues rising now a days for girl child, one of them is eve teasing. It recently has become the burning issue for the country owing to its adverse effects on women, especially to the teenage girls. But the Women and Children Repression Act, 2000 which has amended in 2003 stating that no one would be charged of sexual abuse until and unless it is physical and this law failed to protect accurately the girls from eve-teasing . Bangladesh government also didn’t focus on the right of indigenous girls. If we focus on the success sight of the government then we must acknowledge that the situation has been changed and the changes are prominent what 15 years was back in our country for girl child. In our country contest the problems that the girl child faces are inter-connected somehow. If we educate our girls, make them conscious about the effect of early marriage then it’ll decrease the child marriage, if the girls aren’t getting marriage before the age 18 then it’ll shrink mortality rate and girls will awake about their right and other violence will certainly trim down. A flow chart is given below:
Child mortality and health
Girl child right
Street girl child
Implementation of existing law and raising awareness among people Prostitution
Trafficking in girls
Eve teasing and others
Bangladesh has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (September 2, 1990) and its two Optional Protocols on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (February 12, 2002 and January 18, 2002 respectively),MDG, Bangladesh Constitution, CEDAW, SAARC Conventions and the National Children Policy project ,jatio shushi niti 2011 have ensured the girl child right but the proper implementation of laws is required.
For a developing country like us the progress our government has made is not negligible but if we talk about the safe guard of our girl child then much more improvement is required.
Children are the greatest asset of our country. For the developing countries like Bangladesh the problem in girl child right is sever. Though there are many laws to protect girls right but in practical the enforcement can hardly be seen in all issue of girl child right. If we look at the developing countries good political structure, easy access to basic needs, laws are in place to protect girl child, there are regulation for the citizens to follow as well as equal right of children regardless of gender, and these are lacked in our country. Bangladesh is full of natural resources, but it is not developing because most of the time we forget the famous quote of Walt Disney that “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” (Disney,1943).
We know Bangladesh is one the most density country in the world so it is not possible for government alone to ensure the development for children, specially girls, if our country could able to protect the right of girl child more better then now, then we could be a role model for rest of the world. Everybody, including parents, society as a whole should come forward for the welfare of the girl child. It’s time we need to change the outlook of society about girl’s right and enforced law in a prolific procedure that will ensure the right of girl child as well as the success of our government concerning girl child right. The most important thing we have to keep in mind that Government alone can’t make stop girls abuse of right until unless we like normal citizen of the country doesn’t show concern or can’t make ethics towards our future generation but not to count as girl or boy.
* Naila, K, 1985, “Do women gain from higher fertility?” Delhi, Oxford University Press.
* Tinker, Irene (ed.), 1990, Persistent Inequalities: Women and World Development. New York, Oxford University Press.
* UNICEF, 2002, United Nations Children’s Fund, The State of the World’s Children 2003, , New York.
* Heissler, Karin, 2001, Background paper on Best Practices and Priorities to Combat Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children in Bangladesh. Dhaka, Bangladesh: CSI.
* UNDP, 2003, Human Development Report, Delhi, Oxford University Press.
* ILO ,2002, Girl child in the informal labour: A Statistical Picture, from South Asis, Geneva, International Labour Office.
* Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 1997-98, Report on the Bangladesh felame and male sex ratio, Dhaka, Government of Bangladesh.
* GOB, The Fifth Five Year Plan 1997-2002, p. 435.
* United Nations, 2007 “Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children.” Fact Sheet No. 23. Viewed 3rd June, Via http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/2/fs23.htm
* United Nations,1989″Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography” viewed 3rd June via http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc/treaties/opsc.htm