Bangladesh - Social development

A system of pensions exists for public employees only, and there is a limited work injury and unemployment insurance system. These programs are financed entirely by employer contributions and cover only small percentage of the population. Sickness and maternity benefits are also offered on a limited basis.

While women have and exercise full voting rights, they receive unequal treatment in many areas, including education, employment, and family matters such as divorce and inheritance. While legislation has been passed in recent years to protect women, discrimination and spousal abuse continues to be a problem. The Cruelty to Women Law of 1983 and the Women Repression Law of 1995 have not been rigorously enforced. There are continued reports of women being disfigured by having acid flung at their faces—usually by rejected suitors.

Because of widespread poverty children are forced to work at a very young age, and are frequently abused. More than half of all children suffer from malnutrition. There is evidence that children are being sold to the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia for their labor. The government is collaborating with nongovernmental organizations to put an end to this practice. Some estimates place the number of child laborers as high as 10 million, including—according to a UNICEF report—some 10,000 child prostitutes.

Although the government is secular, discrimination against minority Hindus has led in recent years to violence and conflict. The government's human rights record is poor, with many fundamental human rights restricted. Abuses include extrajudicial killings, torture, and violent suppression of demonstrators, and prison conditions are inhumane.

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