Bangladesh to Ban Those Below 18 from Political Activity

Dhaka, Sep 16 (IANS) Those who are below 18 years of age may be banned from political activity in Bangladesh under a draft policy for children announced here by the government.

The age and definition of a child are proposed to be revised from the present 14 to 18 years, bringing in nearly 45 percent of the country's estimated 156 million population.

The new child policy seeks to target ultra poor children under the protection of its social safety net, The Daily Star said.

The National Child Policy 2010 defines individuals under the age of 18 as children, irrespective of their castes, religions, communities, and social status.

According to the draft, the government will appoint an ombudsman for children to ensure implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

It aims to gradually eradicate child labour employed in many hazardous industries and for which Bangladesh has been criticised at home and abroad.

The government will finalise the policy by early next month, said State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury.

According to the draft, at least 26.5 million children in the country live below the poverty line, with little or no means to meet their basic needs.

Wahida Banu, chairman of Bangladesh Shishu Odhikar Forum, told The Daily Star: "The social protection net will help reduce the number of homeless children, who are vulnerable to exploitation on streets, and to becoming drug users, sellers, or muggers. We hope the social safety net will cover the children's basic demands and protect them."

The draft policy prohibits employment of children under 14 years of age as full time workers.



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