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‘Break the silence, talk about sexual harassment’

  • Published at 12:59 am November 24th, 2019
Centre for International Education and Development
Participants at a dialogue organized by Rights advocacy group Gender Justice at Centre for International Education and Development (CINED), Dhaka Ahsania Mission on Thursday, November 21, 2019 Courtesy

A dialogue between madrasa representatives and rights advocates was held at CINED in Dhaka on November 21, 2019

Rights advocacy group Gender Justice organized a dialogue about the alarming rise in reports of sexual harassment in madrasas in Bangladesh, discussing the issue with representatives from several madrasas and asking them to break the silence on such incidents.   

The dialogue was held at Centre for International Education and Development (CINED), Dhaka Ahsania Mission on Thursday, a press statement said. 

The goal of the meeting was to break the taboo about sexual harassment and how to deal with the incidents. 

According to newspaper reports and data from Bangladesh Children’s Rights Forum, sexual harassment has been on the rise at educational institutions, particularly madrasas, in recent years.

Gender Justice believes platform believes that the dialogue creates an opportunity for those who are unable to report being sexually harassed or assaulted, and come forward to report them.

Speaking at the event, AF Hassan Ariff, former attorney general and former adviser to the caretaker government, said there should be guidelines for how madrasas should be established and run. He also urged madrasa teachers and principals to look into anything that violates a student’s rights. 

Prof Abu Zayed Mohammad, dean of law at Northern University Bangladesh, suggested that the reasons for and the accuracy of the sudden rise in sexual harassment crimes should be studied further. 

Barrister Ummehani Binte Ariff, co-founder of Gender Justice, made a presentation of showing clear details of the ways a victim is oppressed by a perpetrator. 

Prof Md Rabiul Islam, associate professorm and chairman of the department of law andjustice at Jahangirnagar University, suggested there be sexual harassment cells at all educational institutions, including madrasas, and those cells be monitored by women.

The madrasa representatives said attending the dialogue had been helpful as many important suggestions had come up during the discussion.

Teachers and authorities of madrasas suggestedconducting training on sexual harassment for teachers, awareness programs for students and parents, and a uniform selection process for recruiting teachers, as all these steps would significantly curtail the occurrence of sexual harassment. 

Gender Justice co-founder and Supreme Court advocate Abdullah Al Noman conducted the dialogue, with assistance fromintern Md Sohel Rana and AF Hassan Ariff & Associates. The assessment session was conducted by Audrika Eshna Purbasha.