Launching of the Publication ‘Children of Bangladesh: Progress towards Commitments in 2017’

Launching of the Publication

‘Children of Bangladesh: Progress towards Commitments in 2017’

The Child Rights Advocacy Coalition in Bangladesh is a coalition of ten national and international organizations working to uphold children’s rights in Bangladesh. It has started its journey with the realization that joint advocacy on child rights can bring greater value and influence than individual and isolated initiatives. It now carries out coordinated and concerted advocacy with the Government of Bangladesh and relevant stakeholders for legislative and policy reforms for the promotion and protection of child rights.

As part of that, the Coalition has prepared an annual report, titled Children in Bangladesh: Progress towards Commitments in 2017 analyzing the situation of children in Bangladesh. On behalf of the Coalition, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) has prepared the report based on the findings from national and local level by the Coalition members.

The report is developed to assess the progress of Government’s initiatives to implement the recommendations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the child focused Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council (the UPR) recommendations at the national level. The Coalition has also put forward some specific policy recommendations to overcome existing challenges for the Government’s consideration.

The Coalition launched the report on 18 October 2018 at the National Press Club.

Laila Jesmin, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA), was present in this event as a Chief Guest. The event was facilitated by the Sheepa Hafiza, Executive Director, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK). Additionally, from the Coalition, Rasheda Akther, Manager, Civil Society and Policy Advocacy; Child Rights Governance and Child Protection; Save the Children; Syed Motlubar Rasheed, Adviser, Education and Development Foundation; and Shahnaz Rahman, Child Protection Adviser, Plan International Bangladesh, were present in the program. Representatives of other child rights based organizations, children, journalists and many others were present at the launching. The key objective of the ‘Children in Bangladesh: Progress towards Commitments in 2017 Report’ is to measure the progress of Government’s initiatives, and thus, improve the accountability of the State and other key actors for their commitments and obligations towards children and the international community for the promotion and protection of child rights.

In the event, Rasheda Akhter, Manager, Civil Society and Policy Advocacy, Child Rights Governance and Child Protection, and Save the Children, shared the major findings of the report. Emphasis was place in the matters of Child Marriage, Birth Registration, and violence against children. Rasheda Akhter, when pointing to the important parts of the reports, mentioned that, basing on various information and data, they have also raised in the report that Child marriage is a gross violation of Child rights. Child marriage is not just a single issue; connected along with this are several other rights including the right education and health of children.

After the presentation, the ‘Children of Bangladesh: Promise and Progress 2017’ report was launched. During the open discussion, the journalists placed questions relating to various issues ranging from: violence against children, legal steps and the status of progress on this regard, steps taken by the Government to ensure the rights of children from underprivileged families, Child Marriage and the abuse of the special provision in Child Marriage Restraint Act.

Sheepa Hafiza, Executive Director, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), mentioned that the addition of the special provision in the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2017 has resulted in the general public misinterpreting the provision to mean that girl child below the age of 18 years can be married off. The Government is supposed to share and disseminate information and carry out activities about this Act in the field level. Moreover, we have always demanded for the amendment of this Act and the removal of the special provision.

Syed Motlubar Rasheed, Adviser, Education and Development Foundation, mentioned that awareness amongst the locals, including the parents, must be raised on matters of Child Marriage in the marginalized communities, floating islands, underprivileged and remote area. Not only for the Act, but also comprehensive initiative must be taken against Child Marriage.

Laila Jesmin, Additional Secretary, MoWCA, stated the Government has an obligation to stop child marriage. To prevent any abuse under the special provision of Child Marriage Restraint Act, the Government has finalized the Rules on the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017. Moreover, she added that the Government has prepared a core committee which, after discussing with relevant stakeholders, has submitted a report to establish separate directorate for the children in order to ensure the development and protection of the children. She noticed that there has also been progress in the establishment of an independent National Child Rights Commission to oversee the protection of children.

Finally, Shahnaz Rahman, Child Protection Adviser, Plan International Bangladesh, gave her vote of thanks to all the participants present in the event. She said that the coalition is monitoring the process and raising the issues concerning the implementation of the Government’s promises on child rights protection and development. She also opined that the coalition expects everyone to play their role for the betterment of the children.

Through this book launching event, the coalition’s recommendations on the existing challenges were raised. The members of the coalition hope that the Government will consider these recommendations and take necessary actions immediately. Through the combined efforts of the Government and the Civil Society Organisations, the coalition aims to create a safe environment for the children, which is going to ensure their full development.