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Spate of child murders raise alarm in Bangladesh

Decline in social values, poverty cited as reasons for killings
Spate of child murders raise alarm in Bangladesh

Children in Dhaka protest against child killings last Aug. 20. (Photo by Stephan Uttom)

Published: March 08, 2016 02:15 AM GMT
Updated: March 07, 2016 10:26 AM GMT

Violence against children, including recent brutal child killings by parents, are the result of weak family bonds and poor social interaction, Bangladeshi activists including a church official said.

A total of 56 children were killed including nine by their biological parents and stepparents through February, according a report from the Bangladesh Child Rights Forum. 

The organization documented killing of 366 children (41 by parents) in 2014 and 292 child killings (40 by parents).

Violence against children came to forefront once again with recent spate of brutal child-killings.

A housewife in Dhaka confessed to police last week that she strangled her two children, aged 14 and 6, on Feb. 29, over fears about their future, local media reported.

A newborn baby died after her teenage mother threw the baby from the fourth floor of a building in Dhaka on Feb. 1, allegedly to avoid the social stigma over being a single mother.

Family disputes and greed has taken its toll on children, says Emranul Haque Chowdhury, chairman of Bangladesh Child Rights Forum.

"Children are victims of a weak family bond, where parents hanker after money in legal and illegal means and the relationship between parents and children deteriorate. So, children are neglected, abused and these kinds of heinous killings occur," Chowdhury told ucanews.com March 4.

A serious decline of social values and wealth disparity between poor and rich spur child killings, said Shah Ehsan Habib, a professor of sociology at Dhaka University.

"A gradual fall from social values and widespread social inequality are responsible for breaking down family bonds, which leads to cruelty against children in and outside the family. So, children become victims of frustrations and distress of parents," Habib told ucanews.com.

"The government needs to set up counseling and call centers for distressed people to overcome their challenges," he said. 

Farjana Robin, a psychologist at Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital in Dhaka, said unhealthy competitive attitudes and poor parenting skills often leads to abuse and neglect.

"Often many parents want their children to become first in everything, which is both an addiction and perversion of mind. Sometimes parents have illicit affairs and children become the victims," Robin told ucanews.com.

Bangladesh's Catholic Church launched a campaign last year aimed at making the institution secure and safe for children.

Marist Brother Cesar Henriquez, one of the campaign organizers, said media attention has provided the illusion that child killings are on the rise, but that this has been a long-term problem in Bangladesh. 

"There is a lack of support line and network for children to express themselves and find support from good places to be safe and secure as they need," he pointed out.

"The adults need to stop considering children as property and do whatever they want with them. Children are not possessions; we don't own them. We must consider them as individual persons and help them grow properly," he said.

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