19 days ago

World Day Against Sexual Harassment

Fighting a malice with awareness

Published :

Updated :

Today, March 4, is the World Day Against Sexual Harassment. However, no significant programmes have been taken anywhere in the country in the public or private domain to mark the day. It could have been possible to eradicate this type of crime, if various types of awareness programmes were taken to observe the World Anti-Sexual Harassment Day with due importance. Sexual harassment is one of the obstacles to empowering women. Women are subjected to sexual harassment both at home and abroad. It is a social disorder.
From children to old people, no one is safe from this disease. Although women roam freely, they are subjected to sexual harassment in various places such as houses, roads, vehicles, footpaths or public places. A woman who is a victim of sexual harassment, on the contrary, hides herself as she loses the courage to live in society. The normal life of the victim and his family are disrupted, their life becomes miserable. Protest invites counter-attack. So, many desperate parents stop their children from going to school and college and keep them at home in fear of coming under attack by miscreants. Many girls spend their childhood and adolescence days under some sort of house arrest because of the scumbags. Similarly, many women are forced to leave their jobs due to sexual harassment in the workplace and many parents do not want girls to work. Women keep this kind of harassment secret in both society and the family.
Crimes like sexual harassment are increasing day by day due to lack of justice. About one-third of the world's women are victims of sexual harassment on a regular basis. In 2018, a research report by the non-government organization BRAC showed that 94 per cent of women were sexually harassed while travelling on public transport. They did not protest as they feared further harassment. Although the government has various initiatives to stop sexual harassment, it is not playing an effective role. According to a BRAC survey, most of the harassers are middle-aged or older men (41 to 60 years). This rate is more than 53 per cent.
A survey conducted at the university level shows that 76 per cent of female students are sexually harassed in one way or the other during their university life. Out of this, 87 per cent in government universities, 66 per cent in private universities and 54 per cent in medical colleges are victims of sexual harassment. Apart from this, 19 per cent of women engaged in various professions are victims of sexual harassment. In addition, 7.0 per cent of the total women in the world are victims of rape at any time of their lives. The country does not take that much initiative to establish the rule of law and prevent sexual harassment. Although there are many cases of sexual harassment in educational institutions, especially schools and colleges, it is not revealed. School-college governing bodies cover up. If someone complains, they will be harassed. There is no committee to prevent sexual harassment in any school or college in Bangladesh including Dhaka. Statistics show that 886 women were raped in Bangladesh from January to November 2022. Among these 886 people, 56 were children below 6 years of age. 100 were children aged 7 to 12 years.
The numbers would be slightly higher, as no information was available on the age of hundreds of rape victims. About 143 women between the ages of 13 and 18 were raped during this period-add them up and the average becomes clearer. The data presented here have been gleaned from only four or five major newspapers of the country.
In 2010, the High Court of Bangladesh issued a directive to prevent sexual harassment. It has been said that institutions including educational institutions where there are women should have an anti-sexual harassment committee headed by a woman. There should be a preponderance of women in the committee. A complaint box should be set up at a certain place so that complaints against sexual harassment can be received. After every three months the box will be opened and if any complaint is received, then the committee will investigate and take action. Confidentiality must be maintained to ensure an impartial outcome of the investigation. Anyone can file a complaint with the committee. But the directives of the High Court are not being implemented. Although some organisations have such committees, most organisations do not.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment and molestation of unwanted parts of the body as well as attempted unauthorized sexual acts are deemed sexual harassment. In simple terms, sexual harassment is the act of forcing someone against their will or the intention to carry out any sexual act.
Who is affected?
Anyone, male or female, can be a victim of sexual harassment. But in most cases women, girls and boys are affected most. Sometimes, the elderly can also be victims.
How is affected?
Girls and boys are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Due to their small size, they cannot easily resist a sexual predator. Therefore, young children are heavily bullied by relatives and acquaintances around them. There are some members in our family, whom we never consider harmful to our children. But children are more abused by these relatives. Many times children say something against them but we ignore them due to inexperience.
In our society, boys are mostly affected in various educational institutions. A large proportion of women, along with children, are victims of sexual abuse. Especially women who have no real freedom of their own, who are somehow subject to the will of others, are more affected. Also, a part of women are subjected to sexual harassment due to their vulnerability in the workplace.
Not only that. In the modern social system, high class women are also victims of sexual harassment. In the current era of globalization, girls, women and children are also victims of sexual abuse due to social media. In many cases, women with any weakness are also subjected to sexual harassment due to blackmailing.
Who is affected?
Our family is surrounded by some members who possess perverse character. They target young children waiting for an opportunity to satisfy their perverse desire. These relatives and acquaintances forcefully abuse the children sexually by luring or intimidating them. There are some members of the family, with whom there is a joking relationship. These brother-in-laws or paternal relatives also take the opportunity to sexually abuse their victims in many cases. 
Boys are mostly bullied by teachers and middle-aged people around. Many of us do not know that boys are also victims of sexual harassment. Vulnerable women are attacked by superiors at home and at work. Women and children are subjected to sexual harassment on public transport.. Girls are bullied in schools and colleges. Women and children are also victims of virtual sexual harassment by some people in social media. Also, rising models or stars who seek to work in the media are also subjected to sexual harassment.

Dr. Muhammad Mahtab Hossain Mazed is a columnist and researcher. He is also Founder Chairman of Jatiya Rogi Kallyan Society 
Email, [email protected]

Share this news