When will we see an end to violence against women?
Anika Tasnim Supti || risingbd.com
Violence against women is a universal issue and has become one of the most visible and articulated social issues in Bangladesh.
It is not a new issue for us. It's magnitude tends to be alarming, particularly in rural areas, generally among the poorer section of the country and society. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, oppressed into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
In a patriarchal society like Bangladesh, women's position, power, prestige, authority etc are generally ascertained and dominated by males. Males attitude towards females is important in this issue.
Usually, committed violence against women in Bangladesh is many. Domestic violence is a very diffusive serious social malady in both developed and developing nations.
Due to patriarchy and the absence of enough empowerment situation of women, it is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh. It especially includes- economic violence, psychological violence, emotional violence, physical/sexual violence.
According to ASK (Ain o Salish Kendra) a total of 626 women are murdered by their husbands in the year 2008-2010. In our country weddings are preceded by the payment of an agreed-upon dowry by the brides family. Failure to pay the dowry can lead to violence often in the form of "bride-burning".
Rape is one of the most brutal forms of violence against women in Bangladesh. The ever increasing rate of rape is an alarming phenomenon and is particularly injurious to a women's self-identity and her physical and psychological wellbeing.
"Odhikar", a women's organisation, recorded a total number of 48 females who were raped in January 2016. In 2020-21, there were occurred a number of unexpected rapes and most of the cases have not yet been brought to justice. This is so much alarming for our females and also for our country's environment.
Women’s of Bangladesh are mostly harassed in their workplace. According to the report of Prothom Alo (2018), mental harassment occurs 26%, physical harassment 16.2% and sexual harassment 29%. In rural areas, we see a vast number of female children between 13-15 years of age get married because of the family's desires and decisions. Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey(BDHS) conducted a representative national survey in 2010, approximately 10% were found in the age category of 10-14 years. In the Covid-19 situation, female child marriage was increasing.
This violence is so much harmful to a girl's physical and mental health. Early age pregnancy is also a notable feature resulting from child marriage. Women's from both rural and urban areas are suffering from various unwelcome sexual behaviour which is offensive and humiliating. It includes- touching, pinching, grabbing, sexual comments, demand for sexual favours, exposing one's sex organs etc.
Many women's in Bangladesh are forced into prostitution either by their husband's or parents. Generally the low status of women economically, socially, culturally are tended to be responsible for this violence. In recent times, women's are suffering from various kinds of digital violence such as cyber-bullying, non-consensual sexting etc. "Eve- teasing" has gained tremendous importance as alarming violence in recent times.
Almost every woman are faced with teasing when they go out for any reason or when they walk on the road or when travelling any local transport or anywhere by any age or any class of teaser. Besides this, there are some other types of violence that occur in Bangladesh which is- sex discrimination, female foeticide, marital rape, incest, medical abuse, mental torture, sexual assault, female genital mutilation(FGM) etc.
If we focus on the global setting we noticed a devastating scenario. In the USA a woman is raped every 6minutes. About 3-4 million women are raped, almost 1 million women received medical treatment after torture, one woman is physically assaulted every 18 seconds.
One-fourth of women among the total population are subjected to gender violence in France. The research found that an extreme number of women are physically and sexually abused by police during the interrogation in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc.
Bangladesh is a patriarchal society. When we focus on the historical phenomena of violence we found that opposition and sub-ordination by males over females is the common feature in this society. The customs and values are largely male-dominated. In this case, the family has a strong rule.
But unfortunately, most families are promoted gender discrimination. Studies of violent criminals and violent sex offenders have found these men are more likely than other adults to have experienced poor parental childrearing, poor supervision, physical abuse, neglect and separations from their parents.
One-third of children who have been abused or exposed to parental violence become violent adults. To the extent that schools reinforce sex role stereotypes and attitudes that condone the use of violence. They may contribute to socialization supportive of violent behaviour.
Many feminist researchers have suggested that pornography encourages the objectification of women and approved the pardons of sexual aggression towards women.
Television and movies are filled with scenes of women being threatened, raped, beaten, tortured and murdered for only being women and that are strongly support violence. Violence against women largely depends on socio-cultural and religious norms.
Gender-specific socialization, belief in the inherent superiority of males, religious values that give men proprietary rights over women and girls, religious and social customs of marriage. Some economic causes are also responsible in this case. Women's economic dependency on men, limited access to employment and informal sectors, training and education opportunity, discriminatory laws regarding inheritance and property rights etc. There also exist some legal causes of violence- lesser legal status of women either by written law or by practice, laws regarding divorce and child custody, insensitive treatment of women and girls by police and judiciary.
To prevent violence against women, Government, NGO’S and the Media have taken some steps. Some government interventions are- Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961, Dowry Prohibition Act 1980, Family Court Ordinance 1985, Child Marriage Restricted Act 1984, Women and Child Repression Act 1984, Marriage and Divorce Registration Act 1974. NGOs, especially women organisations and human rights groups are quite active against violence.
They campaign for the enactment of laws and modernization of existing laws to protect women. The media have played a crucial role in agitating against violence and thereby forcing positive actions. Media plays the main activities are- provide information, awareness-raising and campaigning.
To change the horrible situation of our country, the main responsibility is ours. We need to change our mindset, especially man's attitude towards women is very important in this issue. And the women's need to become more courageous and more aware about their all kinds of rights.
(Anika Tasnim Supti studies Public Administration at Comilla University.)