Incidents of domestic violence have shot up in recent months in Bangladesh with nearly 750 cases reported last year
Women, even those contributing to their families, often become victims of violence at the hands of their husbands or in-laws for various reasons including dowry.
Incidents of domestic violence have shot up in recent months in Bangladesh with nearly 750 cases reported last year, according to data compiled by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK). Many more cases are not reported.
But despite the rising number, only a fraction of the victims get justice because of the slow trial process. Experts say the lack of moral and ethical education is the root of such incidents.
Rima Begum, 25, for example, died on March 4 after allegedly being tortured by her husband Shipon Howlader and in-laws for dowry.
Her brother Arif said his sister was often tortured for dowry after their marriage one and a half years ago. She had injury marks on her body when she was taken to Ujirpur Health Complex.
Ujirpur police’s Inspector Helaludddin (investigation) said they had arrested Rima’s husband and his parents. “We will take further legal actions after the autopsy report comes out,” he added.
Another victim, Sultana, a teenager, was happily married. Once their first child was born, her husband started putting pressure on her for dowry. He started torturing his teenage wife physically and psychologically, the victim claimed.
After a while, the girl decided to divorce her husband and contacted ASK for taking legal action in this regards.
Experts say violence against women is tarnishing Bangladesh’s achievement in women empowerment. It was placed at 47th position among 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gap Report 2017.
The Center for Genocide Studies (CGS) report, on the other hand, notes that gender-based violence remained a critical challenge for Bangladesh. The proportion of women suffering various forms of violence has increased noticeably since 2013 in the country.
ASK said the number of women tortured by their husbands and in-laws increased to 442 in 2017 from 385 in 2013. As many as 303 dowry-related cases were reported last year, up from 239 in 2016. Between January and February this year, 68 incidents of domestic violence and 28 dowry-related incidents were reported.
On the other hand, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) statistics put the number of women tortured and murdered by their husbands and in-laws for dowry at 389 in 2017. A year before that, the number was 361.
BMP says the number of domestic violence incidents between January and March is 108 while the dowry-related incidents are 53.
Is there a solution?
Experts blamed the lack of understanding between the spouses and greed for the incidents.
Alena Khan, head of Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation, said: “The male members of a family show violent attitude towards their female counterparts due to a lack of ethics and morality.”
She suggested enacting a new policy and counsel males as well as imparting moral education at schools to help the psychological development of the boys.
ASK Senior Deputy Director Nina Goswami said lengthy judicial processes encouraged the male partners to continue violence. The victims fail to continue case procedures and get marginal support from their families and the society.
Research Initiatives, Bangladesh (RIB) Executive Director Meghna Guhathakurta said in the CGS report that “the privileged community doesn’t want women to become empowered because they are not willing to change the system.”
In CGS report, Associate professor Dr Tania Haque of Dhaka University’s Department of Women and Gender Studies, noted: “Upgrading of woman’s situation cannot be achieved without an acceptance of the situation they face and the needs they have.
“We need to remember that sustainable development cannot be achieved until women of a country can obtain their due rights.”