Bangladesh being an over populated country has its fare share of neglect towards the child care services and other specific legislation pertaining to protecting children from harm, abuse, exploitation and other such hindrances that may be faced by them in their daily lives. Therefore, the issues regarding children in Bangladesh are so vital that those should not be neglected at all. In spite of having or claiming to have a stable and growing economy, more than half of the children in Bangladesh are living below the international poverty line.
Many of the children in Bangladesh face abuse on a daily basis which may be from their teachers, school seniors, classmates, relatives or even their own parents. Such practices have resulted in many of the children getting physically or emotionally scarred and even losing their lives in extreme cases. Sexual harassment, online harassment, lack of opportunity of education for the want of enough school/coaching in Bangladesh. PAEDS hopes to fight for these children’s rights and help them in whatever way possible, whether it be through litigation, awareness programs or any other means. Some of the laws which the Bangladesh government has enacted in protecting the rights of Children are:
Children’s Act, 2013: Act to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Act changes the legal definition of a child from being a person under the age of 14 to one under the age of 18. It criminalizes any kind of cruelty inflicted on children while they are working in both the formal and informal sectors. In addition, the Act will prescribe punishments for using or exploiting children in begging, in brothels, and in carrying drugs, arms, or other illegal commodities.
Penal Code 1860: The legal provision through which the age and general exceptions are provided for children & juveniles under the Criminal Court system in the country. The act also plays an active role in protecting the rights of children from exploitation, abuse and other similar criminal offences to which they may fall victim.
It is hopeful for the word that PAEDS already have taken some step to save life of child, such as; established school in rangpur city for the street child in 2019 and filing suit against cyber evil who are abusing the child.
Education is the most basic right of all regardless of the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity or even religion. With the growing birth rates in Bangladesh it is quite surprising as to how the most of the children of the country are not even receiving adequate educational facilities, perhaps due to areas having no schools or even adequate premises to be called one. Many do not even possess proper uniforms or even textbooks to attend schools, even those that do have to face the hurdle of even attending schools in other districts due to none existing near their homes. Moreover, even from an early age these children end up working to earn their living with no time or the opportunity to attend schools. The right to education ensures access to quality schools and to an education that is directed towards the full development of the human personality. Every individual child must have equal access to a quality education adapted to meet his or her needs. PAEDS makes it a priority to allow these children an opportunity to have a proper school life through its various efforts such as through financing or even building school premises in areas without them. Furthermore, PAEDS aims to enable the adults who have had no such opportunity to get a formal education and make the citizens of Bangladesh at least reach its pinnacle in development.
Education is both the means as well as the end to a better life the means because it empowers an individual to earn his/her livelihood and the end because it increases one’s awareness on a range of issues from healthcare to appropriate social behavior to understanding one’s rights and in the process help him/her evolve as a better citizen. Right to education is not only a human right but also a fundamental right ensured by every laws of a country. Article 17 of the national constitution of Bangladesh mentions free and compulsory education; it articulates that the “State shall adopt effective measures for the purpose of (a) establishing an uniform, mass-oriented and universal system of education and extending free and compulsory education to all children to such stage as may be determined by law and (b) relating education to the needs of society and producing properly trained and motivated citizens to serve those needs; removing illiteracy within such time as may be determined by law”. It basically resonates with article 26 (1), of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which states that “everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit”. A nation’s position and fundamental philosophy around education is basically reflected in its education policy. But this cannot be said to be an effective form of enforcement specifically for the children. Indian government passed the “Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act” in 2009 which came into effect on 1 April 2010. The Article 21-A declares that the provision of free and compulsory education of all children in the age group from six to fourteen years as a fundamental right. With this step, India joined a group of few countries in the world, where the historic law declaring education as a fundamental right of every child has come into force. Hence PAEDS wishes to raise awareness and take on projects which would in turn have the same effect as the enactment of provision similar to that of India’s Compulsory Education Act.
Food adulteration has become a common practice in recent years in Bangladesh. Many of the bazaars, hawkers and even the supermarkets get fined by the Mobile courts due to low grade quality of the foods and harmful substances used in the commodities. This practice has lead to many harmful long-term effects on the consumers over the years. Such effects mostly lead to causing cancer like colon, peptic ulcer diseases, chronic liver diseases including cirrhosis and liver failure, electrolyte imbalance and eventually kidney failure. Furthermore, mixing chemicals and too much pricing are other activities of violation of consumer rights which also causes harms to human health. The existing rules under Cr. PC and Penal Code are strong enough to deal with it. Section 272 & 273 state out the legal ramifications of such acts of adulteration which includes fine amounting to Tk. 1000 and imprisonment ranging to 6 months. The authorities concerned should have a strong will to implement the rules. There is also the Safe Food Act 2013 which the government has implemented to fight adulteration and protect public health. The Bangladesh National Parliament has passed the Food Safety Act, 2013 on October 10, 2013 (after repealing and re-enacting the existing outdated laws in this regards) in order to make provisions for the establishment of an efficient, effective, scientifically based Authority and for regulating, through coordination, the activities relating to food production, import, processing, stockpiling, supplying, marketing and sales as well as to ensure the people’s right toward access to safe food through appropriate application of scientific processes and state of the art technology.
Right to food has been recognized worldwide as an inalienable human right. For the survival of a human being, among the all basic necessities food is the first one because it’s not only human being but all the living creatures on the earth requires food for their living. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 11 of the International Convenient on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) has adopted the right to food in spite of the millions of children who are suffering from malnutrition, dying for food scarcity and also undernourishment. Bangladesh being a state parties of these international instruments and specifically being a state party (signed and ratified in 1990) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), are obliged to implement the conditions of the international treaties.
PAEDS aims to help Bangladesh to have the basic need such as food to be free from any form of harmful chemicals which may be poisonous to health and allow people to consume them without any worries or ramifications of consumption. PAEDS endeavors to also protect the citizens of Bangladesh from harmful practice of unscrupulous businessmen who sell inferior products at higher price. This has over the years resulted in many of the consumers of food & drinks to suffer various health diseases, for cosmetic buyers to end up with permanent damage to their skin and increasing imports of products causing domestic currency to flow out of the country. PAEDS members are diligent in protecting and allowing consumers to know of their rights and fight beside them in order for them to get justice. PAEDS’s fight is to prevent any and all harmful practices carried out by the domestic syndicates for allowing people to live a better life with good health & mind.
The number of people in Bangladesh with low paying jobs is quite high and such jobs require them in most instances to risk their lives on a daily basis. The unsafe work environment, inadequate tools for the workers and lack of safety precautions are only some of the reasons why the country has such a high death rate of workers who succumb to injuries or accidents faced during work. The major incidents such as Rana Plaza can be considered as the violation of labor rights. Therefore, industrial activities needs to be monitored and labors should be provided legal and social assistance for establishing their rights. The new amended labor law incorporates provisions including forming trade unions without informing owners and safeguarding safety measures for employees in their workplaces. Provision of safety committees and the establishment of workplace health centers are also included in the law. Inspection is an integral part of the law. According to the law, inspectors can enter any factory to measure compliance with the law, and can apply penalties for breaches of the law (Amended Labor Law 2013). PAEDS wishes to promote, for such exploited individuals, the right to unionize. This wing of PAEDS believes in equitable development through social and economic well-being of labor, migrants, and women workers and through cultural renewal among disenfranchised people. The lack of proper safety equipment and the low wages don not amount the lives lost in such dangerous situations.PAEDS has already worked on a Public Interest Litigation preventing the use of unregistered & unsafe boilers used in garments which have a high likelihood of exploding. Moreover, PAEDS also worked to accommodate the victims’ families in such situations with proper financial remedy in order for them to pick themselves up.
PAEDS has already worked for the betterment of the labors of Bangladesh through a public Litigation case that involved the death of workers at a garments factory due a blast of expired dated boiler and had been under heavy criticism by all the journalists and news groups at that time. On 19.07.17 Moreover, PAEDS also worked to accommodate the victims’ families in such situations with proper financial remedy in order for them to pick themselves up. This public interest litigation can be seen as quite the feat for protecting the hard working individuals involved in the garment’s factory, not only the ones from the present day ones but also the future. We also try to raise awareness of lacking safety equipment for dangerous works which we hope will at least bring a slight sliver of hope for a better future of these workers.