The Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment of Daffodil International University (DIU) and the Bangladesh Mahila Parisad (BMP) in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden, jointly hosted the seminar and exchange meeting on ‘implementing the directives of the high court division regarding prevention of sexual harassment’ at the 71 Milonayoton of DIU on October 25, 2018. Professor Yousuf Mahbubul Islam, Vice Chancellor, DIU was present as the Chief Guest while Ms. Ayesha Khanam, President, Central Committee, BMP attended the event as the Guest of Honor. Professor Dr. Farhana Helal Mehtab, Chair, Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment, DIU presided over the seminar.
During his welcome speech, Professor Dr. Golam Mawla Choudhury, Controller of Examinations and Proctor, DIU, reminisced the prompt actions that the DIU management undertook soon after the landmark judgment of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh was delivered in 2009. Dr. Choudhury mentioned that by following the guidelines, DIU has created a congenial atmosphere for everyone in its campus.
In her speech, Ms. Ayesha Khanam highlighted the activities of BMP since its inception in 1970 to ensure women empowerment and end gender discrimination in Bangladesh. She lamented over the fact that despite so many success stories of women in multiple fields, sexual harassment still persists in our country. Furthermore, she emphasised upon instilling family values and value-based education in the curriculum of our educational institutions, especially in the primary schools to bring changes in the outlook of the society for ending sexual harassment of women.
Professor Dr. Yousuf Mahbubul Islam then addressed the participants and remarked that building a relationship based on trust is crucial for creating a safe environment for women in society and ending sexual violence. Afterward, Advocate Maksuda Akhter discussed the judgment of the High Court Division in the case of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA) v Government of Bangladesh and Others at length and highlighted its various aspects. Referring to the binding nature of the judgments of either division of the Supreme Court as per the Article 111 of the Bangladesh Constitution, she remarked that not following the directives laid down in this case would amount to contempt of the court. She ended her discussion by urging the legislative wing to promulgate the said law on preventing sexual harassment of women soon.
In her closing address, Professor Dr. Farhana Helal Mehtab remarked that DIU has a zero-tolerance policy regarding eve teasing and sexual harassment. She urged the policymakers to abide by the directives of the High Court and take appropriate measures to end violence against women. Dr. Mehtab also outlined the procedures followed by the Complaint Committee of DIU while handling complaints and suggested that the number of complaints filed by the students had gone down exponentially in recent years. She thanked the students of DIU for working collectively to ensure a safe campus for women.
Event covered by Ali Mashraf, contributor of Law & Our Rights, the Daily Star.