• Saturday, Oct 31, 2020
  • Last Update : 09:28 am

OP-ED: Women, always the scapegoats

  • Published at 08:02 pm August 28th, 2020
violence against women
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Men need to stand up to injustices committed against women

Over the last week, a girl from the district of Jessore became news across the media -- both traditional and social. 

She wanted to celebrate her wedding by riding a motorbike after her nuptial beauty preparations right from the salon. She wasn’t alone on a lone bike; her friends and family were also with her -- with her in the front. 

It was a big motorbike-cade. Jubilant, joyous, happy, and gleeful. They were just having fun and, as she said, she wanted to make the event memorable to her progeny.

The problem began when she posted the video on social media. Society, on social media, with its ultra-religious sensitivity, no deep knowledge about religion, began to shower its black bile on the lady. Thousands of people used abusive language against the girl and called her names, because, as they thought, the girl had committed a sin and it was now an issue and needed to be addressed.

This is not unexpected in a country like ours. We still don’t like women doing what we think men should do. If a woman does what we think men should do, we spare no time in going  after that woman. That’s us; we know. 

We, the Bengali men, have always wanted to lead a Western lifestyle, be engaged in all sorts of corruption, but we want our women to remain closed inside the house and act like women.

However, we men were surprisingly quiet over another incident in another corner of the country. The media published the news along with a photograph of two women who were being beaten up in Cox’s Bazar’s Chokoria upazilla. The two women, mother and daughter, were also seen tied up with ropes. They were accused of stealing a cow by the local union parishad chairman. Some news reports have also said that the local political leader was also involved in torturing those two women.

The men across the country were absolutely silent over it. The ultra-religious people didn’t also say anything when the news got viral on social media. This incident is not also new in this country. 

Our habit of being judgmental and taking the law in our own hands is an old one. We still run our state of affairs with a feudal psyche. Whoever becomes a public representative of this common lot behaves like kings and queens of the past centuries.

Who would now want to ask that union parishad chairman why those two women weren’t handed over to law enforcers if they had really stolen cows? Why did this chairman play the role of the police as well as an inflictor? The law says in the Police Resolutions (330 Ka) that we cannot handcuff any woman. How could, then, the chairman tie them up with ropes?

Police found them wounded and took them to the hospital. However, the police couldn’t take any legal action against those who took the law in their own hands. The police, here, have served as a social worker -- they took them to the hospital.

We humans consider individual honour with highest priority. We may be poor and remain unfed, but we won’t stand for it when someone tries to strip us of our honour. This is also a one of the prime elements of a democratic society. We seem to have started walking in the wrong direction in this regard. 

The incident took place in front of everybody, but no one said anything to protest against it. We have shamelessly dishonoured two women and the persons who were with them. These kinds of incidents are not only taking place in Cox’s Bazar; these are happening across the country in all roads and alleys.

The chairman himself manhandled them and then he handed them over to the police. The cow, which they allegedly stole, also didn’t belong to the chairman.

Why aren’t men on social media talking about it? We haven’t seen anything about the real reason for the assault in the mainstream media.

We dishonour women in educational institutions, workplaces, in our homes as well as on public transport. Sometimes, some of us are arrested because of the crime, but the majority of criminals are roaming around free.

On many occasions, we have seen elected public representatives involved in such crimes and the common people don’t protest against them, as they are influential people and may harm the person who would protest.

We know things must change for the better. This pathetic feudal situation cannot continue if we really want to become a civilized lot. We will improve and we will also start honouring our women. 

But what has pained me is the quietness of men against the injustice against these two women. For me, it’s very difficult to digest this cowardice shown by men. 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.

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