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A CLOSE LOOK

Securing street children's rights

Nilratan Halder | Published: December 20, 2019 20:34:58


The High Court has ordered the ministry of women and children affairs, the ministry of social welfare and others concerned to submit within 40 days what measures they have taken for rehabilitation of street children. This order was passed by a HC bench during the hearing of a writ petition submitted by a Supreme Court lawyer seeking long-term steps for rehabilitation of floating children with no shelter for themselves.

The lawyer was apparently prompted to move the petition following the setting a 10-year-old boy on fire by some devil incarnate in Fakirerpul area. With 27 per cent of the boy's body severely burnt, he is now struggling to survive in the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Naturally, the HC also ordered the officer in charge of the Motijheel Police Station to file a case before investigating who the perpetrator/s was or were and arresting the same.

What exactly can tempt a person to set a hapless boy of such a tender age or even any human being on fire is mind-boggling. Even animals have reasons to feel undermined if fiends like the perpetrator/s are derided as beast. The boy who could not tell who his father and mother are or from where he hails however told it was a rickshaw-puller who set him ablaze.

In a society where more and more people are turning increasingly mindless, avaricious, corrupt and morally bankrupt, women and children cannot but be most vulnerable. The rot has set at the level where the so-called educated and the privileged have made such corrupt practices the order of the day. Abuse of positions and perks for unearned financial and material gains is not even a social stigma. What a man in high position feels when he is arrested for embezzlement or taking bribe? How does such a person face his adult sons or daughters let alone his relatives?

In fact it is the head of a fish that rots first and then the entire body. If the institutions that are supposed to uphold the values, moral discretion and integrity of character compromise on such matters, how can the lower segment remain immune from such vices? The powerless and unqualified become desperate and their desperation finds its expression in myriad bizarre ways. When they cannot take on the powerful and the influential, they go for satisfying their sadistic instinct on the ones who are even weaker and more vulnerable.

Or else, it is impossible to explain the loathsome modes of torture and murder of children that are taking place quite frequently. Some of them are sexually abused before their killing. A good number of them are taken hostage for ransom and in most such cases they do not return back to their parents alive. It is not even unlikely that some of the hapless children are murdered for the fun of the perpetrators. Whoever could imagine gas can be pumped into children's rectum to cause their tragic deaths! A number of such cases have been reported from different areas of the country and there is no guarantee this will not happen again.

All such incidents are a proof that this society is hostile to children. The young ones who are not quite aware of who their enemies are unsafe in this society. So, the lawyer has stood by the side of those children who have to fend for themselves and the state has utterly failed them by not guaranteeing the security of their lives. No state can abdicate its duty towards the most vulnerable. Every citizen has a right to security of life. On this count, the plea seeking rehabilitation of the street children is a step in the right direction. That the High Court has taken up the issue in its merit is likely to bring some positive outcome. If street children are admitted to rehabilitation centres made especially for them and taken good care of, they are likely to grow as worthy citizens of the country. This is how the down-trodden can be given a new lease of life.

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