Indications are clear that hostility to children in this country is on the rise. Tortures of the most outrageous type, abduction for ransom, rape and gang rape before murder in case of as tender girls as six to 14 years old are galore there. Only a few of the kidnapped boys are lucky to return home. Either they are rescued by the law enforcement agencies or somehow manage to escape. But the rest disappear forever causing permanent bleeding of their parents' hearts.
This past week saw a frenzied display of hostility against children -both boys and girls. Apart from cases of rape and murder, a boy on the outskirts of the city was abducted before realising Tk 0.2 million. But the boy was not returned; instead his body was found decomposed in a drum of a close relation's house.
Then another boy, a newspaper hawker in a northern district was tortured like Rajon, the boy who succumbed to the insane cruelty and the video picture of which on smart phone sent shockwaves across the country. This time also the hawker boy barely 12 years old was tied to a tree and tortured on charge of theft of a biscuit packet. Luckily, the boy could be rescued before it was too late.
There is no reason to think that the perpetrators contacted each other before embarking on a hate mission and unleashing their wrath on the young and vulnerable ones. A Bangla contemporary reports that in January this year alone 29 children were killed and over the past four years the number of murdered children was 1,085.
The fact that Rajon's torturer was promptly brought back from Saudi Arabia to face the murder charge and after trial awarded the ultimate punishment has evidently not at all acted as a deterrent. Several other boys fell victim to this kind of deranged mentality. In fact, there is no sign that society will be free from this curse anytime soon. More monsters apparently are waiting in the wing to claim their young victims.
True, the tradition of tender behaviour with children is not a plus point of societies in this part of the world. But this does not mean people were biased against their young ones and were habituated to the extreme cruelty now being perpetrated. Sure enough, people in the past might have been a little crude and did not show their emotion and passion in public but at no point they were capable of such fiendish acts. Today society boasts its education, courtesy, refinement and familiarity with the sophisticated Western culture but the darkness in the heart seems to have deepened rather than clearing.
In the past, the rivalry or family feuds hardly used the young ones as a soft target in order to exact revenge. Today, this is commonplace. Rude behaviour is one thing and annihilation of rival's scions is a completely different matter. When parents of the yester years were rude to their children, it was because they wished their young ones well. Society was not sophisticated enough to treat children with the utmost care. But there was no dearth of love. And one who loves one's children dearly cannot think of taking the lives of others' -be they enemies -children.
Admittedly, in a materialistic society, human quality has suffered tremendously to the extent of bankruptcy. A couple of weeks before in a bizarre incident a woman and his second husband forcibly sent their 13-year old daughter from her earlier marriage to spend a night with a Middle-east returnee in his late 20's misinforming their neighbours that the underage girl and the man was wedded. All because they received money from the man coming home on a holiday.
It is therefore a mental rot that turns over time into a social rot. No society can claim dignity if it is hostile to its young members. Childlike innocence is heavenly and it is the essence of human living. To borrow Shakespearean theme of alter ego from King Lear, it is evident that society is committing the crime of murder against itself. A society is not just a collection of people, it stores centuries of language, lore, tradition, customs, rites and rituals, arts and culture.
All these evolve and get refined with time. There is no reason for a people to be suddenly insane, perverse and hungry for young blood. Can it be a clash of civilisations - Western and Eastern? There is a hunch that people yet to properly deal with superstitions, taboos and religious biasness have suddenly discovered themselves awkwardly in a fast-forward world of giant technological leap. The advantages of such gadgets have unbalanced them to the extent that they have become most unpredictable. All that is normal in another society is not so here and thus the journey off-track.
Education and economic prosperity unless properly designed have their fall-outs. It is clear, the kind of education imparted now is devoid of human quality. Mostly it helps career building but at the cost of empathy for fellow human beings. Perhaps society needs a thorough review of its hopes, aspiration and dreams. It is essential to become a caring person before becoming a successful careerist.
Man does not live alone, the need is to share --not like the hollow and upstart type of likes and dislikes but serious thoughts and collective well-being -with the rest of society.
Right now, the educated and elite of society should launch a campaign against child oppression. Punitive measures alone cannot fight this malaise. The need is to prove that this is a civilised society that rejects such barbarities.