It is called activism, not campaign, against gender-based violence. The activism spanning 16 days from November 25 - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10 - the Human Rights Day, evidently connotes an extra sense of positivism. This is not for nothing. It is almost a year gone when #Me Too social campaign has literally taken the world by storm. The protest against physical and sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls the world over had never been as vociferous as it has been this year. What was so long amiss was the absence of realisation of the gravity and extent of the crime. Now it is known that one in three women and girls the world over has to go through the ugly experience and no country is immune to the pandemic.
Yet it must be admitted that the protest started in the glamour cine world of Hollywood of the United States of America has swept the upper echelon of society -- films, politics, media, education etc. At the lower segments of society, numerous horrendous stories are there which the victims dare not share with others for reasons understandable. When police investigations reveal the blood-chilling sequences of cruelties and abuse of victims who in most cases in this part of the world are done away with, does the word know the enormity of the crimes. At the same time, humanity stoops low by several degrees as the dirty and devilish facts concerning the so-called men in position and power come to light. It surely has its negative impacts on the segments of society below. The impression it gives is - if educated and suave men placed in high positions can act like this, there should be no bar on the uneducated and lowly placed.
Now if the women of high society can take the fight to the sex predators, at the lower level this is beyond the power of their sisters for a number of reasons. Fear of reprisal or revenge, inability to convince others and the stigma levelled against the victim rather than the perpetrator act as the reasons for not coming up with the incidents of abuse. In backward societies, the victims of sexual violence are doubly subjected to physical violence when they are meted out public flogging or other harassment like shaving head or cutting of hair under the edict of village arbitration. Unsurprisingly, humiliated and grossly maltreated, some of the victims then take their own lives.
Without a social movement where both men and women participate in order to highlight gender parity, the prevalent discrimination against women cannot be eliminated. Society has to change from within. This can be done by making universal liberal education accessible to all. It is good to know that the number of girls enrolling with primary and secondary schools in this country is higher than boys. This is surely a plus point for Bangladesh to make a social movement happen here. Sixteen days' activism is symbolic, what the world needs is to nurse the wound and be on guard against sexual violence throughout the year.
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