Educationists and social workers on Tuesday urged the government to take necessary initiatives for ensuring rights of the slum children.
The discussants in a study report presentation at the National Press Club also said slum children, especially the girl children, were facing different problems.
The study titled ‘A study on the situation of girl children of slums in Dhaka city’ was conducted by the Democracy Watch on Mirpur Bauniya-Bandh and Karwan Bazar slums from October to December in 2010.
Dhaka University’s sociology department’s professor Ishrat Shamim said the government had responsibility to assure the rights of vulnerable children as it signed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted in 1995.
She urged the government to take necessary steps to ensure education, health and social security for the slum children.
According to the study, 13 per cent girl children, aged from 5 to 14 years,
are illiterate, 19 per cent drop-out and 65 per cent suffering from various diseases.
Twenty-eight per cent girl children were victim of sexual harassment by neighbours at the slums and 37 per cent teased by stalkers on the way to their schools and 72 per cent’s opinion was not valued by their families regarding marriage.
The study also showed 43 per cent mothers, of 0 to 4 years girl children, agreed that there were cases of violence against women in their slums while 94 per cent have knowledge about law against early marriage.
United Nations Children’s Fund, Bangladesh’s communication officer Arifa Sharmin said according to the Bangladesh Bureau
of Statistics’ Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey-2009, the mortality rates of children, below the age of five years, were 53 per cent at urban, 66 per cent at rural and 95 per cent in the slum areas.
Drop-out rates at primary education level were 1 per cent at both urban and rural areas which was 8 per cent at the slums and net attendance ratios at secondary education level were 53 per cent at urban, 48 per cent at rural and 18 per cent at slums, she added.
Manusher Jonno Foundation’s programme manager Abdullah Al Mamun said there was no separate chapter for children in the draft of the Sixth Five-Year Plan.
He also said in the budget of 2010-2011 there were 84 projects taken to ensure safety net while only 4 of these were directly related to the vulnerable child and .07 per cent of total budget was allocated for the vulnerable urban children.
Tahrunnesa Abdullah, the organisation’s gender resource centre’s programme director, said the government should immediately take proper initiatives for the vulnerable girl children.
The organisation’s chairperson Professor Latifa Akanda Dhaka University’s Institute of Social Welfare and Research’s professor ASM Atiqur Rahman and Naripakkha’s member Maheen Sultana were also present at the programme.
The study also showed that 3.4 million people were living in 5,000 slums in the city and 8 million slum children were working to earn their livelihood in the country.