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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Social attitude towards women must change

Source: The Daily Star News

VIOLENCE against women in different forms happens everyday everywhere in the world. But the causes behind the violence vary, depending on which society one is talking about. And in each and every incident of violence against women, in the case of sex-related ones in particular, it is always the male who is taking advantage of the victim's weakness. And the weakness can be both physical and social in origin.

In recent times, we get more reports on such incidents of violence being committed against women day in, day out than in the past. The latest report on the violence against women shows that in the last six months of this year some 1,479 women fell victim to sexual assault by men. That means every day more than eight women get raped in the country. This does not, however, mean that, of late, violence against women has grown in number for some strange reasons. For on average, the figure was still higher at 3,462 in 2008 and at 3,584 in 2007.

Some blame the ubiquitous satellite TV channels screening different kinds of shows including films with violent contents, especially those depicting sexual violence against women, for the worsening state of the social scourge. It is, however, a matter of research to find out if such shows or films have really the potential to increase the number and frequency of such criminal assault on women. That apart, it can be said without doubt that it is due to the media that we are now getting more and more aware of this ever-festering wound every society is suffering from.

In Bangladesh, it is only recently that the level of awareness about this social ill has been rising. For in the past, some cases of violence were not even taken cognisance of, let alone considered as a culpable offence. As a consequence, incidents of domestic violence often went unreported as those enjoyed some kind of immunity from the glare of publicity.

With the enactment of a number of laws against women repression, the cases of domestic violence traceable to various social roots including dowry claims have now come within the ambit of law. Similarly, male violence of sexual type against women has also got adequate coverage in the laws enacted by the successive governments.

But the mere existence of laws to bring the offenders to justice is not the only deterrent against the male-inflicted violence on women. Laws can take its due courses only after the offences are committed against the victim. But the law cannot come into action on its own, unless the victim, her family members or any concerned citizen brings the issue to the notice of law. Even after the issue is brought to court, justice is not immediately established. One has to go through the entire procedure of law before the wrong done to the victim is righted. This is but the accepted mode of delivering justice.

Nonetheless, in our society, the victims of violence, especially women, often shrink away from having recourse to law. Here comes the issue of our society's sensitivity to the violence inflicted on women by men. Unlike open societies with advanced democracy, here the very idea of making the subject of rape or any other kind of aggressive male action against women public involves certain amounts of risk. And it is about the honour of the woman concerned in the public eye. Which is why the acts of sexual violence in particular against women often either go unreported or are hardly brought to court for redress. Only the handful of cases that draw any serious media attention may finally see the light of justice.

But what happens to the lives of those victims of male violence after all the publicity over their dishonour and the legal measures taken die down? The media hardly ever keeps track of that other side of the story, if only because those may not carry much value as news items. The irony is even after the wrong done to a woman victim of rape is redressed and well-compensated for through the due process of law, the subject of the wrong done never recovers from the blow she suffered to her social honour. The woman at a stage becomes a liability to the family and society. The victim, if unmarried, may forever lose the opportunity to be married. And for a married woman, her husband and his family may permanently abandon her.

Here it is the culture and tradition of society that is to blame for the general lack of sensitivity to women victims of violence of every kind. To change the situation, existence of the relevant laws is not enough. The family and social values that dictate our behaviour towards women must undergo transformation before a woman may fight in the court for her honour and rights like her male counterparts. To achieve that end, we would need more than the work of a few urban-based and elitist gender-conscious advocacy groups. In truth, the nature and quality of the politics itself that rule our life has to be transformed lock, stock and barrel.

Bangladesh: 1479 rape cases recorded in 6 months: Women repression unabated despite stringent law

Source: The Daily Star

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.

Unholy things under holy mask

Source: Modern

A group of ruling party men has set a very nasty example of 'unholy' task under the garb of holy reason.

According to Bangladeshi press, Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha [Uttara Hindu Welfare Society] ook permission to use a piece of land measuring one hecter [3 acres] from Bangladesh government for a week for setting a temporary Puja [Hindu worship] pandel in Dhaka. Considering the divine reason, Bangladeshi government granted permission to use the land for using the land for seven days, during the just concluded Durga Puja [largest religious festival of Hindus].

Durga Puja [Worship of Durga'], also referred as Durgotsab [Festival of Durga] is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates worship of Hindu goddess Durga. Durga Puja is widely celebrated in West Bengal, Assam , Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura where it is a five-day annual holiday. Not only it is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the State, but also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society.

Subsequently a temporary pandel was set on the land. But, the organizers, at the end of the festival, instead of vacating the land are and immersing the Durga deity are continuing to keep the deities on the spot, with an ulterior motive of grabbing the piece of land. According to Hindu rituals, Durga deities are accorded farewell and immersed in a nearby river or lake.

Sensing the immoral attitude of the Hindu leaders who took the permission for setting the pandel, members of law enforcing agencies are already deployed on the spot and a criminal case has been lodged against the leaders of Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha [Uttara Hindu Welfare Society] most of whom are ruling party activists and leaders.

On the other side, a leader of Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha, Engineer Chandra Mohan Paul told reporters that the questioned land was not occupied illegally. He claimed that, they already have sought court injuction on the land, which stops Bangladesh government from removing the temporary pandel from the spot.

Meanwhile, it is learnt from the office of Bangladesh government that the leaders of Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha [Uttara Hindu Welfare Society] submitted an application with Rajdhani Unnayan Karitpakkha [Capital City Development Authorities] on August23 2009 with recommendation from Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun for using the aforesaid land for 10 days. The permission was granted with two specific conditions, which are:

1. Organizers wont allow any commercial establishments on the land during the period of using it,

2. They will vacate the land by September 29, 2009 and remove all materials of the temporary pandel from the spot.

On end of the Durga Puja, the leaders of Uttara Hindu Welfare Society, started constructing a temple on the land without any lawful rights. When Rajdhani Unnayan Karipakkha [Capital City Development Authorities] rushed on the spot and intervened, some influential Hindu leaders made phone calls to the Prime Minister's office claiming, a Hindu Temple was attacked. Subsequently, police were deployed on the spot.

It is alleged by Rajdhani Unnayan Karipakkha that, some leaders of the ruling party are behind the entire episode of grabbing the land in the name of Hindu temple. They said, subsequently commercial establishments will be set alongside the temple, if they will finally succeed in grabbing the land and those leaders will cash huge amount of money from this place.

While everyone in the world are always in favor of protecting minority rights, it is also equally expected from the religious minorities in the world that they won't use religious sentiment in covering any form of illegal activities, as some of the Hindu leaders in Dhaka [Bangladesh] have committed in the mentioned case.

It is also important to mention here that, although we have found just one example of grabbing land in the name of setting Puja Pandel, in Bangladesh alone, acres of land are grabbed by some crooks in the name of establishing mosques, shrines, temples etc for years. Especially the trend of grabbing property by establishing a mosque is a very common phenomenon in Bangladesh. There are at least hundreds if not thousands of cases of grabbing government property by setting a mosque right within the capital city in Bangladesh. And not to mention about the other cities and towns in the country.