Countless women still feel powerless to protest against any form of violence they are subjected to despite being self-sufficient, speakers at a session titled #metoo said on the second day of Dhaka Lit Fest 2017 on Friday.
The panelists - comprising Sabina Faiz Rashid, Samia Zaman, Sophia Walker and Bachi Karkaria - talked about sexual violence against women and the nuances of the issue that have come to the forefront due to an online movement which began in October.
While many men seemed shocked at the sheer number of women speaking out, women were surprised that so many men were unaware of the magnitude of the problem.
“Some men always think of themselves as rich and powerful, and most women consider themselves as ‘powerless’, so they cannot protest against violence,” Researcher Sabina Faiz Rashid said.
“As women do not protest immediately against such acts, men think that the women are enjoying it [violence], thus men continue to do it. If we can come together, we can make a positive change.”
The #metoo hashtag went viral last month as thousands of women began sharing their experience of sexual harassment and assault on different social media platforms.
Indian feminist and women’s rights activist Kamla Bhasin suggested another hashtag – such as #youtoo – was necessary for men.
“We may ask them #youtoo, where they will respond on whether they are perpetrators or not,” she said.
Film-maker Samia Zaman said women need to learn how to protest, starting in their own homes. “To fight violence against women, all women have to band together,” she said.
Friday’s debate was moderated by Jyoti Malhotra.