The number of women actively participating in campaigns ahead of the Union Parishad election in Madaripur is far greater than before. But the growing number also means that they are more vulnerable to polls violence, a common feature of local elections.
Two women, campaigning for Rasti Union independent candidate Billal Hossain Molla, were allegedly beaten up by supporters of rival Awami League aspirant Raju Hawlader last week. Rojina Begum, one of the victims, was hospitalised with serious physical injuries.
Billal’s women supporters took to the streets on that day demanding justice for their comrades.
He claimed women in his locality were campaigning for him on their own volition considering him the most suitable candidate. “This is why Raju’s supporters attacked them,” he alleged.
Raju rejected the claim. Most of his campaigners are also women.
Last week, several women were reportedly attacked during canvassing in the district but the attacks did not deter them. Two of the women had their hands broken.
Ghatmajhi Union’s independent candidate Khalilur Rahman Darji claimed his rival Awami League candidate’s supporters attacked five of his activists with sharp weapons and batons. “A woman’s hand was snapped while another received injuries to her chest,” he said.
Superintendent of Madaripur Police Mohammad Sarowar Hossain said this time there was mass participation by both male and female voters. “We are prepared to tackle any situation,” he added.
Women are canvassing in the 15 unions in the Sadar upazila while many rallies are being held with only women participants. Women are also leading the campaigns.
A large number of women voters took part in the first phase UP elections in Madaripur. Candidates in the second phase are wooing them hoping to gain an upper hand over their rivals.