In the first six months of the year, as many as 205 children have been murdered in the country. This provides a highly disturbing picture because it comes to 34 child murders a month. Based on an analysis of the annual statistics of the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), the above figures were arrived at in a report carried in a leading Bangla contemporary. Has society become particularly hostile to the young ones now?
This insidiously pathological hatred against children seems to be on the rise. Last year 418 children were killed and the year before (2017), 339 young lives were brutally brought to an end. If the count of the first half of this year is any guide, it may or may not surpass the number of child victims of last year. But the first six months' figure is enough to indicate a frightening picture.
When young lives are stifled, it is more often than not a double criminal act. Child murder is often the consequence of another crime -rape or abduction. The murderer of Saima, a seven-year old girl from the city's Wari, confessed in the court that he killed her in order not to be caught for his rape of the girl. In the same way, an abducted child is disposed of with the sinister motive of not to leave any clue to the crime.
What is intriguing is that the number of murdered boys is almost twice as much as the girls. Of the 205 young lives done away with, 132 are boys and the rest 73 are girls. With the rising incidence of loathsome child rape, the difference in the number of victims in terms of gender is somewhat perplexing. It shows that child abduction for ransom involves mostly boys and they often fall prey to merciless brutalities. Held to trees with ropes, a few of them were beaten to death on suspicion of theft and apparently normal grown-ups derived sadistic pleasure by passing gas from auto pumps through their rectums. What is particularly noticeable is that the social morbidity at times becomes contagious. One such incident of psychic aberration incites others to follow suit.
It is axiomatic that when social morbidity runs amok, it is the weaker section -comprising the poor, women and children - that finds itself at the receiving end. This is true even if it involves abduction of boys from well-off families. Children are targeted because they are soft target. What has been mind-boggling is that one of the parents has been reported to have killed his or her child in order to implicate the spouse where relations have turned irreparably bitter. Parents have been found to resort to similar ploys with the aim to teach a lesson to their rivals in a court case or a co-claimant of a piece of land.
Unsuspecting children are thus devoured by their elders acting as sharks. The value system has dipped so much that the loved ones can be sacrificed at the altar of avarice and vengeance. But sociologists and great thinkers have reminded the common people that a society's true measure is nothing but how caring it is with its young ones. In the United States of America, incidents of mass shooting in schools or colleges are on the rise. The same acerbic mentality is spreading its roots even in former socialist countries.
With countries raising various protective walls around themselves, the present civilisation seems to be on course of a mass suicide. The protective mentality has incited white supremacy in the West and religious righteousness -actually bigotry - in the East. The mad race for material acquisition and comfort, armed supremacy and monopoly of or upper hand in trade have blinded world leaders so much that societies almost everywhere on the globe are victims of unreasonable discrimination. The ghoulish and macabre incidents are committed by desperate elements who consider themselves deprived of their rightful share in prosperity.
If the world's one per cent has at its disposal 90 per cent of its wealth, a backlash is bound to come. The question may be just in what form. Pursuance of selfish policies has its limit. Societies may not be totally egalitarian but it cannot also continue with its deep malaise of divisiveness. As the planet becomes hotter, there is a need for reevaluation of human relations with particular emphasis on even-term international cooperation and collaboration in the face of unprecedented climate change.
Now that societies are inflicting hostility to the young ones by default, they will be willing parties to a far greater harm to the younger generations by not acting prudently in order to arrest the rising temperature. Parts of Europe have experienced the hottest ever summer and the US has also been battered by hurricane and storm followed by floods. Other parts on the planet have suffered unusual natural calamities. As if like human societies, Nature too is in convulsion!
Instead of spending staggering sums on projects for building colonies on Mars or on weapons of mass destruction, the focus should be directed to the well-being of the future generations. The loved ones will need a healthy planet to live in a peaceful atmosphere where socio-economic discrimination will be at its minimum.