By Mansura Hossain

Violence against women rose by 74 per cent in 2015 compared to the year before, says a report of BRAC. The report was prepared on the basis of field reports done by BRAC staff working in 55 districts across the country.

The number could be much higher, as 68% of incidents of violence against women go unreported, says the BRAC report.

In 2014, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) released a national survey of violence against women conducted in 2011.The study found 87 per cent of Bangladeshi married women are abused by their husband.

According to Bangladesh Police website, a total of 17,752 cases were filed in 2010 for violence against women and children. The number of such cases was 21,220 in 2015.

Around100 cases for violence against women were registered in January, 2016.

Representatives of women and children affairs ministry do not disagree with the increase of violence against women while rights activists have expressed their concern over the increase of violence against women.

UN CEDAW committee’s former chairperson Salma Khan told Prothom Alo that Bangladesh men were asked in an ICDDR,B (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) whether they feel women to be subservient to them or not.

In reply, both educated and uneducated men, mostly said they think women are in a submissive position to them. This proves men’s attitude towards women, she added.

BRAC’s field report published in June last year shows that the total number of incidents of violence against women in 2014 was 2,873, which has risen to the alarming figure of 5,008 in 2015.

It is 74% higher than the previous year, and this is the highest incidence of violence against women in recent times.

The report also shows poor women are subjected to violence relatively more (54%) because of social discrimination.

Overall, men were responsible for the majority of violence committed against women. It reveals that 88% of perpetrators are men who are family members of the victim women or their neighbours.

According to the BRAC survey, incidents of violence occur more in Comilla, Bogra, Rajshahi, Bagerhat and Satkhira and number of violence increases in May and goes down in January.

The BRAC report was done through its network of ward-level and women-led institutions. The victim or victims’ family, neighbours, and Polli Shomaj members send reports to BRAC head office within 24 hours of identification, and maintain a database.

BRAC’s community empowerment director Anna Minj told Prothom Alo that the family of victim women shows interest to take legal action after the incidents of violence. But, the poor families lose their enthusiasm when influential people force them to withdraw cases.
Eventually, one fourth of the cases reach the final stage. But, victim families withdraw cases negotiating with the accused in exchange of money due to legislative logjam, she added.

Abul Hossain, project director of Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence against Women under the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, violence against women is much visible nowadays as people are vocal on the issue.

Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP) prepares report on violence against women based on stories published by national dailies.

According a BMP report, a total of 55,656 women were killed for various reasons in the last 11 years and two months [from January 2005 to February 2016].

Prof Mahfuza Khanam, member of the National Human Rights Commission, told Prothom Alo that state of women and children is also an indicator of development for a country.

Bangladesh is developing day by day but violence against women is also increasing due to the impact of satellite channels, digital culture, and lack of strict laws’ implementation, among others, she added.

Prof Mahfuza Khanam also said an integrated step has to be taken to thwart these incidents of violence against women.

The Prothom Alo