We have seen enough brutality with our women and girls during our liberation war but in a sovereign country is it even anticipated by us? The recent series of events of violence and sexual abuse have raised enormous fear about the safety and wellbeing of our girls regardless of their age. According to Bangladesh Mohila Parishad statistics, the number of women raped rose alarmingly in 2016 – with 1,050 women and girls raped in total including 166 gang-rape victims and 44 killed after being raped. The number of gang rapes was 199 in 2015. Within the first six months of the year 2017, Ain o Salish Kendra(ASK) reported that there were 280 rapes, 39 attempts to rape; among these 16 were killed and 5 committed suicide. This number is just the tip of the iceberg as many cases go unreported due to fear of societal degradation, victim-blaming, and perpetrators’ constant threats.
In Bangladesh, sexual and gender-based violence largely persists due to performing patriarchal social norms. For instance, rape is alarmingly increasing every day. Discrimination and inequities that are sustained or allowed in the state increase women’s vulnerability to violence. Violence against Women has become embedded in gender norms, also these have been constructed through repression of women and denying women’s rights.
With a fifty percent female population, protection of women from all forms of violence is a fundamental right guaranteed by our National Women Development Policy. However, sexual violence and brutality still remain a conventional part of life for women regardless of their socioeconomic status, culture, and ethnicity. The physical and mental developments of these women and girls hindered due to severe sexual abuse and witnessed violence.
Though we have been able to identify the distresses of violence against women, most of the cases remain in the dark and there is a huge necessity of reporting and prompt action for violence especially rape and needs to be implemented with policies and proper laws. We need to focus on increasing education and opportunities for women and girls to enhance their negotiation skills to refuse sexual abuse. Also to raise awareness in the community and implement effective strategies and actions, a combined effort of law enforcing agency, political willpower, and community involvement is required.
Ending sexual violence is in our hands. As long as women are treated inferior and less valuable than men, our achievements in sustainable development goals will not bring any positive change. We dream and plea a secure society for our girls and to do so, implement the laws without any hesitancy, and ensuring timely justice has become a necessity.
About the writer:
Afroja Yesmin is a public health researcher and a development worker since 2012. Currently working in an International Development Organization, she is a passionate advocate for women’s health and wellbeing and truly believes that “When we invest in girls, everybody wins”.