Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populous countries. It is also home to about 66 million children, who constitute around 45 per cent of the country’s total population.
But sadly, Bangladesh’s abundance of youth has little to celebrate.
A total of 4.5 million children in Bangladesh work as child labourers. Up to 40 per cent of those younger than five-years-old are malnourished. Bangladesh has the fourth-highest rate of child marriage in the world and rising levels of child abuse: a total of 968 children were abused and killed in last three-and-a-half years according to official statistics.
In fact, it would be difficult to find another country in the world where minors face such a range of problems.
However, several popular initiatives recently adopted by the government promise to make Bangladesh a slightly more child-friendly country.
Lifting the burden of the school bag
If you stand in front of a school in the morning in Bangladesh, you will see numerous children carrying heavy, outsized school bags on their tiny frames.
Blogger Tutul Chowdhury writes on Facebook about his son Rihan:
Yesterday Rihan was saying: “Papa, I can’t lift this schoolbag, it is very heavy… my shoulder hurts.” This little boy (four-years-old) is burdened by this heavy bag. The childhoods of these toddlers are being troubled by heavy bags full of school and homework.
An effective law has to be implemented to stop this.
To the relief of school-going children, the country’s High Court recently issued a ruling aiming to lighten schoolbags for children.
The court ordered the government to formulate a law or regulation prohibiting children from carrying schoolbags that weigh more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight, and preventing the use of schoolbags by pre-primary children.
Shekh Sahiha Alam, a correspondent for the Daily Prothom Alo news outlet spent 15 days weighing the schoolbags of children across various schools, ranging from nursery to class eight.