A webinar titled "The Culture of Victim Blaming" was arranged around 9:00pm yesterday, where speakers and audiences from different parts of the society talked about causes of victim blaming and how to eliminate this harmful practice from our society.
The webinar was arranged by Dhaka University in association with Anthropublic, Light Hour with Wara and MGR.
Dr Dipu Moni, minister for education, was the chief guest of the event and Sultana Kamal, eminent human rights activist, and Professor Dr Sadeka Halim, dean, faculty of social sciences, Dhaka University attended the programme as special guests.
Dr Kaberi Gayen, professor, department of mass communication and journalism, Dhaka University, Z I Mamun, chief executive editor, ATN Bangla, Anis Alamgir, editor, Manabkantha, Umme Wara, assistant professor, department of criminology, Dhaka University also spoke at the webinar.
Umme Wara, in her presentation, said, "Victim blaming is deeply rooted in the patriarchal values of our society. Children are taught in the textbooks that certain jobs that require a lot of physical activity are only suitable for males. Religious leaders often preach that females wearing certain types of clothes are responsible for social degradation."
"Even our laws are also discriminatory. According to section 155 (4) of the Evidence Act, 1872, if a man prosecuted for rape can prove that the female complainant is of 'immoral character' then such evidences of her immoral character can be used as justification of rape. We must reform such laws and stop spreading male hegemony in our society," added Umme Wara.
Professor Dr Kaberi Gayen said, "In most of the cases of rape and sexual violence we have seen that our mass media protected the perpetrators and blamed the victim. Such practice is also widespread on the social media."
Anis Alamgir, editor of Manabkantha said, "When a young woman's death and Sayem Sobhan Anvir, Bashundhara Group's MD's involvement in that death was revealed, many media outlets blurred the photo of Anvir while publishing baseless stories about the victim. Many journalists and leaders admitted that they did it under pressure from their leadership. I would like to say that this is the worst kind of journalism we have ever seen."
ZI Mamun, chief executive editor of ATN Bangla said, "Owners of mass media use their media outlets to attack their business rivals and enemies and protect themselves from any adverse situation. If we want to protect the rights of the victims in this journalistic trend, we must have specific laws that recognise such act as criminal offence and section penalties accordingly," added Mamun.
Professor Dr Sadeka Halim, dean, faculty of social sciences of Dhaka University said, "Patriarchy is so deeply rooted in our society that when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared female victims of our Liberation War as Biranganas, he faced protest from many prominent leaders."
"Then these Biranganas were officially recognised only in 2014-15. We should think that if we cannot recognise the women who fought for our liberation, how women are treated in our society," she commented.
Sultana Kamal in her speech as special guest said, "When society and state cannot protect its citizens from oppression and injustice, they blame the victims to hide its inability. Unfortunately, our state, our policy makers always compromise when it comes to protect the rights of women."
In her speech as the chief guest, education minister Dr Dipu Moni said, "We must remember that after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, we reverted back to the dark age of military rule and religious extremism. We lost much of our values that we achieved through the liberation war during this dark age."
"To make an initiative sustainable, we have to take necessary preparations for our society. These preparatory stages should not be considered as compromise of the government. We are trying our best to restore the values that we achieved through the Liberation War," stated Dr Dipu Moni.