Despite prevailing stringent laws in the country to protect women, violence in different forms against women still goes on unabated with offenders cocking a snook at the laws of the state.
Repression on women have increased manifold over the last few months. The brutality is inflicted on them mainly for dowry, disputes over wedding and land, said women activists working to promote and ensure women's rights in the country.
At least 1,479 women had been raped in six months beginning from January of 2009 while a total of 395 rape incidences, the highest number recorded, were committed in Dhaka Range followed by 390 in Rajshah and the lowest two in Railway Range, said Home Minister Sahara Khatun at a parliament session on October 12.
She also added that at least 3,462 women in 2008 and 3,584 in 2007 were violated.
On September 25, an adolescent was gang-raped following her abduction by 10 Bangladesh Chhatra League activists while she was returning from a Puja Mandop in Kolapar upazila in Patuakhali district.
Four police constables raped a woman from ethnic minority community on 28 February 2009 in Khagrachhari while an Indian BSF violated a Bangladeshi woman and killed her husband in Satkhira in last April.
Advocate Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA), told The Daily Star, “There are a number of laws including Dowry Prohibition Act, Prevention of Women and Child Repression Act (2000) which provides for effective and efficient way of dealing with cases of violence against women such as rape, acid attacks, forced prostitution and trafficking.”
The other acts include Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act 1933, Family Court Ordinance, Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance and Trafficking in Women and Children Act 1993.
“Without proper implementation of the laws, it is really tough to stop violence against women that has become part and parcel of our male partners' behaviour,” said the advocate who runs shelter home for the repressed women, children and aged people.
Shamima Akhter (24) with her six-month-old daughter was looking for an official at the Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell of Women and Children Affairs Department to get legal support for her daughter's paternal right.
She narrated the sorry tale of her conjugal life. “Within four months of our marriage, my husband Mozammel Haque alias Khokan started to torture me. And finally while I was six-month pregnant, he walked out on me as my poor parents failed to give him the dowry of Tk 30,000.”
Hailed from city's Lalbagh area, Shamima now visits Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell at Eskaton Garden at least four days a week with her daughter. She said, “I have come here on foot. I started at 7:00am and have reached here at 11:00am for the hearing.”
Like Shamima, at least 20 others who are victims of violence visit the Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell each day, said sources at the department. “We also receive some foreign women victims who got married to Bangladeshi men,” said a record keeper officer of the cell who mainly files up complaints.
As per case histories most of the victims filed cases against their husbands, or mother in laws for physical torture for dowry.
Meanwhile, the human rights-based organisation Odhikar reported that at least 338 women including 158 girls were raped in nine months beginning from January of 2009. Sixty-eight women and 51 girls were gang-raped, 50 women and 22 children were killed after rape during this period.
A total of 247 women were subjected to dowry-related violence. One hundred seventy-six of them died due to the violence and 64 of them were tortured in various ways. Seven of these women allegedly committed suicide, as they couldn't bear the brunt of torture, Odhikar statistics stated.
At least 27 women fell victim to illegal fatwa while 45 women and 12 girls became the victims of acid throwing, it said.
Women and human rights activist, Ayesha Khanam, who works in the area for three decades, told The Daily Star yesterday, “We are concerned about the realities of women who are the worst victim of violence. Doctor or post-graduate females are also now victims of torture and killed by their in-laws' families.”
She said the recent victims, a doctor and a student of Dhaka University, could be the wake-up calls to launch movement against domestic violence.
“We have submitted letters to home, women and children affairs ministries and prime minister to take steps in this regard,” she said.