Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association (BNWLA) published a report titled 'Violence against Women in Bangladesh' which reveals that five women are murdered every day in Bangladesh, while two more commit suicide due to violence against them! The report said that in 2012-13, 3,633 women were murdered and 1,196 committed suicide mostly due to domestic violence, rape and dowry-related violence. The report, however, showed that fewer violence related cases were reported in 2013 than the year before. Political violence overshadowed incidents of violence against women in newspaper reports.
Experts say that violence against women and girls does not discriminate between rich and poor. All the women and girls of the world are at risk. That is why we will have to make family, society, country as well as the world free from discrimination, negligence, and violence against women and girls; where all of the women and girls must be fully safe. Any incident of violence against women in any place of the world is totally unacceptable. There has to be 'zero tolerance' against violence, and it must be stopped.
Violence against women means crime against humanity. The existing systems and loopholes in law are encouraging violence against women. We, men and women together, must break the silence about this situation. Globally, every state must have time-appropriate, country-specific women development policy.
America-based 'Human Rights Watch 2013' mentioned that while Bangladesh has a strong set of laws to tackle violence against women, the implementation remains poor. Violence against women, including rape, dowry-related assaults, and other forms of domestic violence such as acid attacks, sexual harassment, and illegal punishments in the name of 'fatwas' continue. The report added that international human rights law prohibits the subordination of people on the basis of not only race, ethnicity, religion, and political views, but also gender. That is, it prohibits forcing women to assume a submissive, secondary status, and similarly rejects a 'complementary' role for women as a substitute for gender equality.
Large numbers of women in Latin America and the Caribbean report sexual violence in their lifetime, perpetrated mostly by men known to them. The report noted that over the past 30 years, the international community has increasingly recognised violence against women as a public health problem, a violation of human rights, and a barrier to economic development.
These findings support a large body of global evidence that intimate partner violence is a public health problem with serious consequences for women's physical health, including physical injury, disability, and chronic pain. This comparative analysis also documented widespread emotional and mental health consequences of intimate partner violence, including fear, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The report recommended that more research is needed to understand risk factors associated with violence against women. Surveys should follow international ethical and safety recommendations for researching violence against women.
Many Hindu people are of the opinion that Hindu marriage registration act must be mandatory instead of 'willingness' of the brides and grooms. Prof. Niranjan Adhikary of Dhaka University is in favour of mandatory Hindu marriage registration act. He described some facts of violence against Hindu women due to non-registration of their marriages. Unfortunately, those women could not file any case against their husbands due to non-availability of legal documents. Hindu marriage registration system must be made mandatory by law. He added that at the time of going abroad, it is difficult to get visa without marriage certificates. So, marriage registration will help Hindu women and men in many ways. Sharmila Chakraborty, a columnist, cultural activist and singer supported Professor Niranjan's statement and said: “It is the demand of time to make Hindu marriage registration act mandatory, because it is the right of both Hindu women and men.”
Historical and impressive role of print, electronic and social media at home and abroad in preventing violence against women and protecting the interest of the victims must be recognised. Considering all these issues, we must say that media has more scope to cover more items on social mobilisation, including gender mainstreaming, gender equality, women's human rights and empowerment, and violence against girls and women. Changing 'negative mindset' of the people who treat women and girls 'negatively' must be a priority issue of discussions, Talk Shows, and debates in the print, electronic and social media.
In 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the global campaign called UNITE to End Violence against Women. It calls on governments, civil society, women's organisations, young people, the private sector, the media, and the entire United Nations system to support strategies to address violence against women and girls. That urged building of coalitions and networks of government and civil society institutions including media that can collaborate to develop and implement comprehensive approaches to addressing violence against women.
We should use community mobilisation and mass communication to achieve social change; work to transform whole institutions in every sector using a gender perspective in particular; integrate violence against women with sexual and reproductive health services; promote social and economic empowerment of women and girls; engage men and boys to promote nonviolence and gender equity; and provide early intervention services to at-risk families.
We need to bring about personal, familial, local, national, regional and internationally positive global change so that all the women of the world have equal rights like men to say 'yes' to what they like, and 'no' to what they dislike. It is the demand of the time. The governments, NGOs, civil society organisations, human and women rights defenders, and every single activist, should address the issue and join the fight against violence against women. Build awareness, teach morality, and orient male members of the family and society who do not know how to respect girls and women as human beings. Implement the existing laws effectively and provide legal assistance to the victims. Include resolve to stop violence against women issue in the election manifesto of the political parties.
Orientation workshops must be arranged for the students and teachers to prevent violence against women in all the educational institutions from primary to higher level. Above all, where there is violence against girls and women, there must be organised resistance by the united force of men, women, boys and girls.
The writer is author of books on climate change, women's empowerment, migration and contemporary issues. E-mail: email@example.com