VIOLENCE against women, especially domestic violence, has taken a turn towards the worst. Statistics of various international and national organisations are illustrative of this. More than 80 per cent of the currently married women in Bangladesh, as New Age reported on Sunday, have faced various types of violence from their partners at least once. As the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics puts it, 55 per cent of the married women faces physical or sexual harassment whereas only 2.6 per cent take any legal action for such abuse or violence. A UNICEF report shows that each adolescent married girl out of five faces sexual violence from partner. Women are not only facing violence at home, they are subjected to different forms of gendered violence at work as well. The report of the International Labour Organisation says, more than 67 per cent of the female workers in factories had to face medium to very high level violence. While the government is claiming to be the champion of women’s empowerment, statistics depict a grim status of women.
The main reason behind the rising domestic violence, as identified by experts, researchers and women right activists, is the social stigmatisation of victim of such violence. They further suggested that women feel particularly conflicted and are discouraged by other member of the family when they face violence in intimate relationship. A UNFPA study further substiantiates this point that the reasons for not reporting the incident are women’s concerns for ‘safety, confidentiality, shame and stigma’. The Partner for Prevention study revealed that 77 per cent of urban and 81 per cent of rural men believed that sex is men’s entitlement. Moreover, about 29–35 per cent of men sexually abused women to take out their anger or to punish them, the study revealed, while about 57–67 per cent did it just for fun. According to a UN study, 95.1 per cent of the perpetrators experienced no legal consequences. It is evident from this statistics that the socialisation of men is fundamentally flawed and legal system implicitly shows patriarchal bias in Bangladesh that it encourages men’s violent behaviour. Therefore, the government’s much celebrated campaign for women’s empowerment continues to remain an empty rhetoric and does very little to make a change in the current scenario.
Even a cursory inspection of this scenario suggests that behind the rhetoric of women’s empowerment there remains a reality in which the government and all concerned failed to ensure women’s safety and lacked political commitment. The government must break the culture of impunity and ensure strict punishment for the perpetrators of domestic violence. It should also organise a mass campaign against stigmatisation of the victims of domestic violence and create a safe secure social environment for women to report crime and seek justice.
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