Women in trouble | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 24, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 24, 2008

Women in trouble

If you are a woman, then the problems that you will face are endless. For a woman in Dhaka city going out is like a battle that has to be won in order to survive.
Irrespective of age, profession, rank and class, most women find themselves in undesirable situations while they are outside their homes. Being teased on the streets, charged extra by the CNG drivers, deprived of bus seats etc. are some of the odds a woman must fight against.
Sexual harassment, often termed 'Eve teasing', is not a new phenomenon at all. Whether young or old, pretty or not so pretty, hardly anyone escapes a comment. Often such vulgar comments are made. That makes one feel humiliated whether she is alone or accompanied by her father, brother or some other male companion. Obscene remarks are also made over the phone. This kind of harassment creates extreme mental trauma, especially in the minds of young girls who are sometimes driven to suicide.
On the other hand, some young women have developed strategies to tackle such circumstances. They simply do not pay any heed to these comments or keep themselves busy.
Another hassle is the increased CNG fare. Whenever the drivers see a lone female passenger, they just double or triple the fare. With most VIP roads being off limits to rickshaws, CNG drivers have a free field to charge whatever they want from passengers, especially if they are women. Though the government has increased the fare, still these drivers overcharge the passengers by giving the lame excuse of increase in the daily deposit they have to give to the owner. If anybody tries to protest, they misbehave and harass the commuters.
Many buses have designated seats for women, but often this is completely disregarded by some male passengers who unashamedly occupy these seats. In some buses, which are overcrowded they deliberately lean towards the female passengers and push or poke them. If questioned about their misconduct, they will feign innocence and come up with excuses such as the bus halting suddenly etc.
These are common occurrences during the daytime, so one could well understand how risky it might get after dark for a woman to travel alone. The fear of being mugged or worse, sexually assaulted, is constantly on a woman's mind when she is out alone at night. She cannot move around freely and lead a normal life as she is restricted by her parents, by society and to some extent by her own self-consciousness and insecurity. The parents give their daughter a certain time by which they need to get back home usually out of concern for their daughter's safety.
Dhaka city is no safe place for women. The mindset of some people need to be changed so that they do not tease or harass women on the streets. The government has to control auto-rickshaw and taxi fare. Moreover, the government needs to ensure security in every aspect, so that it becomes easy for women to move around freely and lead a normal life.

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