Women and Children’s Rights in Bangladesh — Woefully Inadequate

women in bangaldeshIn 2013, violence against women continues with impunity in Bangladesh. In January 2013, the New Age reported how a local leader of the Awami League, Mahfuzur Rahman, had allegedly raped a woman in the district of Bagherhat, and then compelled her to leave the country.

Odhikar, the Bangladeshi-based human rights NGO, released a statement on International Women’s Day 2013, published March, 07, 2013, expressing concern for the recent rise in violence against women in Bangladesh. Statistics have shown a significant rise in domestic violence, dowry violence, rape, acid violence, illegal fatwa, sexual violation and harassment.

Odhikar highlights the role of the ruling party, stating that ‘Upon reading various published reports of incidents of violence against women, it is found that in Bangladesh the leaders of the elected government and the activists of the party in power committed various acts of violence against women.’

The report further states, ‘The Government has also withdrawn rape and assault cases by showing them to be ‘politically motivated’. They also prevent the police from carrying out their duties. ‘

Odhikar offers several recommendations to address the increase in violence against women in Bangladesh. These include the implementation of rule of law, that Government cease withdrawing cases identified as politically motivated, education campaigns, legislating victim and witness protection laws, and that Government begin dialogue with all relevant stakeholders to resolve the existing political crisis.

For Odhikar’s full statement, follow this link: Statement of Odhikar on International Women’s Day 2013

Gender Equality & Children’s Rights – Key Facts

  • Women’s rights have deteriorated. In 2012 at least 805 women were raped (13% more than in 2011), 822 were victims of dowry violence (59% more than in 2011), 78 were victims of acid violence (16% more than in 2011). In 2012, 13 women were raped by law enforcement agencies. In 2011, four women were raped by law enforcers. (Odhikar.org)
  • Rampant police brutality does not spare children. A boy of class 10 was killed, while a boy of class 8 sustained bullet wounds, both from police fire. Child employees were beaten by police at garment factory worker protests.
  • Underage children continue to be employed under often terrible conditions and with poor pay.
  • Troubling rise of child rape, including an 11 year old indigenous girl raped by police in Chittagong Hill Tracts (September 2012 – AHRC), a nine year old girl raped and killed in Dhaka (January 2013) and a girl of class two raped and killed in Rajshahi (March 2013). Reports suggest 21 reported child rapes in October 2012 and 26 in November 2012 alone.
  • Women politically targeted: in December 19 female students and one elderly lady of the opposition Jamaat-i-Islami were arrested without charge from their offices. Among them was a 5 month pregnant young lady who was not permitted bail. The women were forcibly unveiled and subjected to violence during questioning. Later, 13 women were arrested from a women’s rights press conference organized in response to the students’ arrest. Recently Four BNP lady MPs were arrested and detained for eight hours during protests on March 7.

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