Bangladesh: A dangerous country for children

If you are an avid user of social media, you may have come across “#JusticeForRajon” on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Since the weekend, the outrage of Bangladeshis at home and abroad has raged on social media and even spilled over to the streets of Dhaka and other major cities of Bangladesh.

The protest rallies forced the authorities to arrest three people — while the fourth suspect accused of killing 13-year-old Samiul Alam Rajon in the northeast Bangladesh city of Sylhet, is being sought. The prime suspect, Kamrul Islam, was caught by the Bangladeshi expatriate community in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 12 after he apparently fled overseas.

The outrage stems from a video clip showing the public lynching of Rajon that went viral on Facebook over the weekend.

Facebook video shows 13 yr old boy beaten to death

Facebook video shows 13 yr old boy beaten to death

The nearly 28-minute-long original video clip which was recorded on July 8 showed Rajon tied to a pole. As the boy cried his heart out, from time to time, grown men lashed at him with iron rods and sticks.

In the video, Rajon screamed in pain, “Please don’t beat me like this, I will die.” Samiul’s attackers can be heard on the footage trying to force him to confess his involvement in an alleged theft.

At one point, Rajon asked for water. One of his attackers asked him to drink his sweat instead.

At one stage he is untied and ordered to walk away. But as the weak youngster tries to get to his feet, an attacker shouts: “His bones are okay. Beat him some more.”

As the torture continued, Rajon’s body seemed to surrender and then he breathed his last. One of the torturers can be heard saying in the Sylheti dialect of the Bangla language that the body should be dumped.

It is believed by the police in Sylhet that the video was recorded by the torturers of Rajon who had caught him for allegedly stealing vegetables.

The police later caught Muhith, one of the killers, with Rajon’s lifeless body hidden inside a microbus. Rajon’s body had 64 marks of injury on it.

Kamrul Islam, a Bangladeshi expatriate who works in Saudi Arabia but was in Sylhet at the time, was identified as the person ordering the other attackers in the clip. It has been reported by several local media that despite being the prime accused, Kamrul Islam had managed to flee to Jeddah, after bribing the local police Tk 1,200,000. He was finally caught in Jeddah on July 12.

Suspect Kamrul Islam talking to reporter after being detained in Jeddah

Suspect Kamrul Islam talking to reporter after being detained in Jeddah

As this post was written, a third individual from the four accused and identified from the video clip was arrested on July 14. Besides an uproar, the incident has led most Bangladeshis to ponder about the society they are living in where children’s lives seem to have little or no value.

But it does not seem like the incident has touched many lives. Days after Rajon’s clip went viral, an eight-year old boy named Tikon De was beaten to death  by his maternal uncle in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

News of other incidents of torture, sexual assault and murder of children have also surfaced in the dailies throughout the country over the past few days.

Powerless children

Some had reasoned that Rajon was a victim as he came from a poor family who are usually deemed “powerless.” Rajon was the older of two brothers. His father is a micro-bus driver and his mother is a housewife. Besides being a student of class four, Rajon had to support the family income by selling vegetables.

But that may not be the case in Bangladesh where children from all stratas of society are being increasingly targeted, harassed, raped, tortured and killed. Child rights experts have warned that the trend is going to spike every year as justice is not being ensured in most of the crimes being committed against children.

Bangladeshis protest murder

Bangladeshis protest murder

According to Dhaka-based child rights promoting organisation Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), only from January till March this year, 96 children have been raped and 66 were murdered in Bangladesh besides numerous other acts of violence done against them.

The statistics tallied by the NGO shows an alarming jump in the atrocities against children with every passing year in Bangladesh as 119 incidents of rape and 292 murder incidents of children had occured in 2014. The numbers were at 150 rapes and 180 murders in 2013.

Experts in Bangladesh have pointed out that children are “soft targets” for attackers if they have feuds with the child’s family; they want to blackmail the family for money or have other criminal intentions.

An even bigger issue is the increase in kidnapping of children in urban and rural areas. Where the reported incidents of kidnap were 42 in 2013, it increased to 69 in 2014 and in just three months of 2015, this category has reached 41.

One such unfortunate case had happened in Sylhet city on March 14 when the dead body of 10-year-old Abu Sayeed was found in the house of a police constable. The arrested police constable Ebadul of Sylhet Airport Police Station had confessed that Sylhet Ulama League general secretary Nurul Islam Rakib and RAB source Geda Mia were involved in the murder of Abu Sayeed, who they had abducted earlier.

Following the abduction, the kidnappers had demanded Tk 500,000 as ransom from Sayeed’s family. Soon, Sayeed was strangled to death by Ebadul and Geda who feared that he may disclose their identities if freed alive.

Child suicides rising

Besides crimes being committed against them, it has also been found that children in Bangladesh are taking their own lives. At least 95 children committed suicides in 2014. The numbers were at 76 in 2013 and 49 in 2012.

Child rights experts have pointed out that children are depressed as they are affected by poverty, unemployment, child marriages, harassment and other issues at ages when they are supposed to study and play. Most children in urban settings do not even have playgrounds or fields as the most open spaces have been developed to erect high-rise buildings and shopping malls.

Due to the lack of playing areas, children often play on the streets or open spaces that may prove risky for them. A glaring example of this is the case of four-year-old Jihad who was playing near his house in the Shahjahanpur railway colony in Dhaka on Dec. 26, 2014.

At some point, Jihad fell down an abandoned 600-feet deep water pipe near where he was playing. As government authorities failed to rescue Jihad in time, his dead body was recovered by locals nearly 23 hours after he had fell down the pipe.

The humiliation and social isolation of children can be curbed if and only if due awareness can be created in grassroots and urban communities of Bangladesh. Government and other stakeholders in the society can roll out awareness programs to convey the message: A child may be young but he/she is still a human being who deserves the same respect, care and dignity that any grown adult demands.

Otherwise, Bangladesh will continue to be a dangerous country for the children.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury is a Dhaka, Bangladesh-based freelance journalist and the editor of  Xtra, the weekend magazine of New Age, a leading English daily in Bangladesh.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Categories: Asia Times News & Features, South Asia

Tags: , , ,

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Thank God for such coverage and the age of the internet. This horror is not confined to Bangladesh, but is a daily occurrence in India.
    -15 thousand children, mainly girls from neighboring Nepal, are sold by the underground of India as slaves , each year.. They face anything from organ theft to the more common aspect of the flesh trade. The numbers have increased since Nepal faced 2 earthquakes
    -3 thousand children die of malnutrition related conditions, each day in India when at the same time India is one of the world’s largest waster of food (21 million tons of Wheat per year, or that of the total annual output of Australia, World’s largest waster of Vegetables and Fruit) and one of the major food exporting nations.
    -It is estimated India has half the world slave population (Out of an estimate of 30 million across the world, India is home to 15 million known slaves). They are treated in the most horrible manner. In comparison the US slave period (from the 17th to the 19th century) had a total estimated slave population of 650 thousand.
    -the horror of India’s beggar Mafia. Children from the Dalit (Pariah) population (317 million), to her Adivasi (tribal) population (100 million) to her Muslim population (180 million) to her pavement dweller population, children are abducted, brutalized. and die.
    The Beggar Mafia of India gets Doctors to cut off healthy hands and legs of these children so they could fetch more money. Many have their faces perforated with acid so as to get more money. They are kept under control with street drugs such as glue or opium.
    Everything I stated above can be verified. Just Google any of these facts. It is amazing how many international organizations know of such brutality on children in the Subcontinent and seldom does it make the international news.
    The list is far more than what I presented. But I will keep my comment relevant to this article, and that is the brutal maltreatment of children.

  • Daniel Berg

    Thanks for very informative writing,

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.

  • aminah

    shame on Bangladeshis , bangalis.. they hardly practice islam . they are indulged in the wrost crimes in middle east as well. they should learn lesson from the Burmese rohingyas. god could send someone more harsh to teach them a lesson. who knows what they did..
    in history , when children get affected. it moves the throne of almighty and revolutions start. it happened during time of moses. when pharoh killed young kids. prophet muhammed . when they buried girls alive in Arabia. and took away their rights. during joseph. when they threw him into the well. and now happeneing again all over the world. there are many educated muslims also india and pkaistan . sex starved ones, who take out their frustration and anger on children .I hope god teaches them a lesson they remember in this life and next,Ameen.
    time to change

  • aminah

    the worst part is the government of india along with terrorist hindu outifts are involved in this operation or prostitution. child kidnapping . begging. etc they all get amount of money from the lead beggar. time to time even the indian police who is bunch of crazy criminals. from terrorist outfits. is involved in this. which god will they will account their crimes. to the north indian or the south indian.

  • aminah

    ABIG revolution is coming and we will see all these criminals who are doing these injustices. and atrocities only to fill their bank vaults. and the politicians who back them up soon hanging in the streets. with heads separated. hopefully its coming. watch very very .heard about the organs that were being stolen from the bodies of Iraqis and Syrians shot dead by ISIS AND SENT TO ISRAEL TO SAVE THE LIVES OF OTHER JEWS.

  • aminah

    internet will not save the mafias and the criminals. anymore the smart police and the men of god don’t really use internet. they are more smarter than the facebook guy thinks.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Did not want to go into that detail, but if you Google “Beggar Mafia in Mumbai” there are articles that give a rough estimate of how much they bring. It is around 35 million US dollars per year, in just that city. They prey on tourists. This has been going on for a very long time, well before the BJP. That means someone of a group of people. are getting very rich on this money that cannot be taxed, since there are no laws to tax this money.
    Then there are the illegal fees charged to the slum dwellers. Average room of 8 to 9 young men goes around 300 to 350 US dollars per person. That is why the “pavement dwellers” cannot afford a place in the slums.
    Many of these young men and women work in high rises, for the Service industry, calling people like myself, across the world. I know many Americans get rude with them, knowing that many of them live in such harsh conditions i try to be polite when I turn down a request.
    Yes the police are very corrupt but partly because many do not get training, many get trained “on the job”. They are not corrupt because they are evil but because they need to be.