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Speakers: Gender discrimination still exists in laws related to aspects of family

  • Published at 11:36 pm June 24th, 2019
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Speakers at a workshop organized by the Human Rights Program of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangladesh in the city on Monday, June 24, 2019 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

In Hindu marriage law, a woman is not allowed to divorce, although she could be tortured by her husband

The criminal law in the country makes no gender discrimination, but the discrimination exists when the laws come to family life, said speakers.

They identified withdrawal of reservation from Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) articles by the government, and bringing a new way without touching family laws as the possible way out. 

The speakers – researchers, government officials, the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS), and right activists observed this at a workshop organized by the Human Rights Program of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangladesh in the city on Monday. 

While speaking on Social and legal implications of withdrawing the CEDAW reservations on the Bangladesh legal system, and social norms, Professor Shahnaz Huda of Dhaka University, said they have found unnecessary reservation on some articles of CEDAW. 

“Criminal laws like panel code, CRPC have been addressed as criminal without a gender prospective, but when it has family concern, acute discrimination exists in the laws,” she added. 

Shahnaz Huda further said that they observed discrimination in guardianship laws, inheritance issues, and child adoption process. According to Muslim law one of the wedding witnesses has to be a man. The male are allowed to be polygamous but there is nothing written on women. 

In Hindu marriage law, a woman is not allowed to divorce, although she could be tortured by her husband. These laws also create problems in adopting children as well, she added. 

Professor of law, Asif Nazrul said; Lapses in the legal framework related to informal employment sector with specific focus on women – focused on domestic workers in particular, and added there is no alternative to enacting a separate law for domestic workers. 

He drew attention on Domestic Worker Act 2013 of Philippine, and National Commission in the unorganized sector, that can be applied in Bangladesh.  

Additional Secretary of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Sheikh Rafikul Islam said government has kept the reservation for it might face problem over it.  

Additional Director General of the Department of Labour, Anwar Ullah said we need to make a compression on our women at formal, and informal sectors. 

Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission Kazi Reazul Hoque said, at the last CEDAW conference, a Bangladesh representative pointed out that the government is not prepared to ratify Article 2 and 16 (1) (c). 

“But to us, this is the high time the government should ratify these as society is prepared for changes,” he said. 

This research will help government to determine if they are ready for it, and what changes they need to bring like many other Muslim countries have already done, the NHRC chairman said.