Impact of global food crisis on women’s rights
According to an annual study report published in July 2022 by the USAID Care Bangladesh, 21% of women and girls experienced violence at the household level due to price hikes in Bangladesh. The growing global food insecurity has become a contributing factor to gender-based violence in households. The soaring food crisis and price hikes in essential commodities are worsening the already fragile women's rights situation in Bangladesh. Domestic violence has been a silent human rights abuse for a long time and is expected to be worse when the IMF is projecting a one third of the world economy to be in recession in 2023.
Domestic violence is recognised as a human rights violation in international law. According to article 3 of the UDHR, everyone has the right to life; and security of the person is also reflected in articles 6 and 9 of the ICCPR. Right to the highest standard of physical and mental health has also been guaranteed under article 12 of the ICESCR. According to article 2 of the CEDAW, the state parties must agree to condemn discrimination against women in all its forms including domestic violence. The monitoring body of the CEDAW in 1992 had also adopted General Recommendation No. 19 which specifically addressed domestic violence as a form of discrimination covered by the CEDAW.
CEDAW Recommendation No. 19 also mentioned that violence against women is also a violation of the right to protection from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment guaranteed by article 5 of the UDHR and article 7 of the ICCPR. This has also been affirmed by the Committee Against Torture responsible for monitoring the Convention Against Torture (CAT) which prohibits any form of torture. Bangladesh is a signatory to the CEDAW and has ratified UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR and CAT, legally bound to take steps to prevent domestic violence.
Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act, 2010 defines domestic violence as 'physical, psychological, sexual or economic abuse against women or children of a family by any other person of that family with whom the victim is, or has been, in family relationship'.
Domestic violence also violates other constitutional and legal rights of the victims. Domestic violence is a gender-based offence which violates the fundamental right of equality before law under article 27 of the Constitution and further violates article 28(1) of the Constitution which protects women and children from discrimination based on gender. Domestic violence also includes economic abuses. Not providing the wife with dower and maintenance, depriving women from inheritance can be treated as economic abuse which violates the right of women protected by sections 9 and 10 of the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961.
As the global food crisis has a direct nexus with increased domestic violence in households, it is a direct contributor to violation of international human rights covenants and domestic laws of the country. Domestic violence has now become the worst form of human rights violation which is to some extent invisible and needs to be addressed immediately.
The writers are Students of Law, University of Dhaka.