Domestic Violence Rate in Bangladesh Alarms Ambassadors

By Jesmin Papri
151208-BD-women-620 Survivors of acid attacks form a human chain in Dhaka to protest violence against women, May 12, 2015.

With as many as 87 percent of married Bangladeshi women having experienced any type of violence involving their husbands, according to a government survey, nine women ambassadors on Tuesday collectively called for ending domestic abuse in Bangladesh and their countries.

“Gender-based violence threatens entire communities, precludes economic growth, and fuels cycles of violence and conflict,” the ambassadors from Bhutan, Brazil, Denmark, France, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sri Lanka and the United States – all women – said in a joint statement.

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that violence against women had significant economic implications, including health care costs, loss of income, decreased productivity and a negative impact across generations.

The nine ambassadors issued their statement to coincide with “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence Campaign.” It began on Nov. 25, the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, and will end on Thursday, Human Rights Day.

The envoys announced that they were working with the United Nations on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which includes as a goal ending gender-based violence. The agenda emphasizes gender equality and empowerment of women.

“At home and abroad, our governments support projects to raise awareness of gender-based violence, educate policy makers on this issue to increase legislative support, train service providers to better address the needs of survivors, and increase justice and accountability,” the ambassadors wrote.

Many manifestations

A Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics national survey in 2011 measured gender-based violence and found that 87 percent of women in country were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of their spouses. The bureau’s definition of abuse includes physical, psychological, sexual and economic forms.

The highest percentage of any type of violence is psychological, which takes into account constant disparagement or scorn, enforcement of strict isolation and behavior aimed at embarrassing or humiliating a woman, according to the survey.

Physical violence, which was reported by 65 percent of married women, led to more than half of them seeking medical treatment. About one-third did not seek treatment out of fear or because their husbands forbade them to do so. Nearly 10 percent of those who reported being physically assaulted claimed social prestige as the reason for not seeking medical treatment.

Physical violence is described as hits, slaps, kicks, beatings, burns and use of a weapon. The survey asked specifically about acid attacks, with 0.2 percent reported being attacked by their current husband and 0.7 percent reported being attacked by previous husbands.

The survey concludes that Bangladesh needs an action plan to keep women safe. Involving men and children in efforts to eliminate domestic violence is essential.

Bangladeshi officials could not be reached immediately for comment.


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