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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 302
December 29, 2012

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Human Rights Advocacy

Cross-examining child rights

Let's fix the age of a child

Sultana Razia

Investing on children may be the best way to build a better society free from discrimination and these young leaders can give us a prosperous Bangladesh, only if they have the strong stepping from the very childhood. Unfortunately, this huge young population is much neglected through policies or in realties.

As a party of International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Bangladesh has committed itself to respect, defend, and promote the rights of Bangladeshi children. Under CRC, it is an obligation for Bangladesh Government to uphold child rights and incorporate core essence of this instrument in its domestic legal instruments. State parties to the Convention are obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the light of the best interests of the child.

What is in CRC
CRC is a legally binding instrument, which incorporates the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Adopted in 1989, it came into force from 2 September 1990. With two optional protocols, it mainly spells out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: which includes, right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Every right translated to ensure the human dignity and harmonious development of every child. The Convention also protects children's rights by setting standards in health care; education;

What is reality?
In a recent survey conducted by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), narrates, “less than 1% respondents had no clear idea about who is a child” Children are born with rights and are entitled to protection. Creating a safe and enabling environment is a precondition in order for them to reach their full potential. However, many children in Bangladesh are at risk working or living in the street endangering their development. Others, less visible to the public see their rights violated under different forms.

Less than 1% of survey respondents believed people are children until age 18. This is in sharp contradiction to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which asserts that anyone under 18 is a child. Approximately half the respondents believed both boys and girls stop being children between the ages of 6 and 10, while 16-17% considered them no longer children by age five.

Bangladesh has also ratified the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, but has yet to do so for the Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment. While there is no uniform minimum age for admission to work in Bangladesh, the Labour Act (2006) prohibits employment of children under 14, and hazardous labor for anyone under 18. From the constant lobby and advocacy, Ministry of Labour and Employment recently adopted a National Child Labour Elimination Policy (2010), providing a framework to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2015. However, with 93% of working children employed informally, the Labour Act is minimally enforceable and eliminating child labour will be a huge task.

The age of a children is differently, depicted in our polices and national laws and still there is lack of coordination. But as long as we don't fix the age how we are going to ensure fullest protection for our future generation? ....Continued

This is a two-part write up on rights of the child. The concluding part will publish on January 05, 2013.

-From Law Desk.



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