THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM IN BANGLADESH
This dissertation reviews the impact of COVID-19 on the child protection system in Bangladesh and approaches adopted by UNICEF to address there. Bangladesh represents a very rich scenario for a case study on child protection and COVID-19, with several child protection issues of concern interconnecting. Prevalent issues include violence against children and women (VACW) and harmful practices such as child marriage and child labour, both intersecting with humanitarian crises for the Rohingya refugee population. The core research addressed is: “How has COVID-19 impacted the child protection system Bangladesh?”, which is addressed with a mixed methods approach. A definition of child protection is provided, presenting the criteria utilized to assess the child protection system and its adjustments in Bangladesh during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The thesis elucidates both the impact of COVID-19 on violence against children and harmful practices in Bangladesh as well as UNICEF support to the Government of Bangladesh. It is shown how COVID-19 provided an entry point for UNICEF Bangladesh to accelerate and expand some of its previous investments in the elimination of violence against children and the strengthening of a child protection system. The thesis concludes that there was a major shift at the government level from a project based and vertical programmatic response to a much more sustainable and scalable approach. This brought tangible progress in the establishment of a child protection system to prevent violence against children and women and harmful practices.