Ahead of the February 4 hartal, called by Jamaat-e-Islami, Mizanur Rahman was injured when activists threw bombs at the bus he was riding on. He was travelling to Karwan Bazar to buy some goods for his grocery shop at West Shewrapara. The 31-year-old has been in bed since then, with his left leg paralysed forever.
His wife Monwara and their 10-year-old daughter have been living a helpless life since the family’s lone bread earner has been left handicapped in the pre-hartal violence. Monwara is just one of the spouses of scores of innocent people who are either maimed or killed in violent attacks on the eve of and during hartals in recent months.
The story of auto-rickshaw driver Imam Hossain of Comilla is another example. Chased by pro-hartal activists on January 31 in Feni, his auto-rickshaw crashed into a roadside tree. His family has been suffering ever since.
The abruptness of the incidents completely traumatised the families of the victims – dead or injured by the mindless violence centering hartals. And financial woes, which are inevitable after the casualties implicated on the main bread earners, multiply the shock of the helpless families, with women bearing the worst of it.
Some psychologists claim that exposure to violence causes short-term psychological sufferings. It may have more fundamental consequences on women and their children’s psychological development and their future behaviour.
In particular, one of the major concerns expressed by many is that, women are being dehumanised by the violence around them. They are traumatised whenever they leave their homes. Persistent trauma can even lead to pregnancy complications.
Recurrence of such violence makes human life cheap and therefore, the social structure becomes weak.
In many ways, the current wave of violence in Bangladesh is being understood as a proof for the claim that violence begets violence.
Implicit in this is the idea that the women, who have been victims of, or witnessed, high levels of violence, could not lead a normal life while their children might want to adopt this method of resolving all political differences.
In other words, in the minds of many, violence has indeed begot violence.
In the last one month, at least 100 people were killed in political violence, according to police reports. The figure could be much higher in terms of media reports.
Behaviour of the recent violence can make the women socially disabled. In case of losing the partner, the situation is worsened further for a woman. In the middle of her life, she has to prepare herself for a harder future, which, in most cases, seems impossible.
Meanwhile, some political leaders politicise those killed in violence and, try to tag a political identity on them.
President of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad Ayesha Khanom said, “Women are socially vulnerable. And the society is always trying to mislead them over different issues.”
“They are also given wrong information about the political situation and made involved in politics. When these women get involved in activism, it turns a boomerang for them. Firstly, they cannot understand the real situation and secondly, they are harassed by the law enforcement authorities,” added the rights activist.
In our country, most of the women are not self-dependent. So, if violence takes the life of an earning member of a family, then the senior woman has to struggle harder to come out of the economic loss.
Shirin Akhter, president of Kormojibi Nari, a platform for working women, said, “Many women came to us for jobs when they lost their husbands, fathers, brothers, or other earning members of family. They always live in trauma. And for that reason, their children become mentally ill and thus, remain socially underprivileged.”