As the country has been gradually regaining normalcy after three months of unofficial lockdown imposed to contain the deadly coronavirus, increased incidents of repression on women is also reported. Though women in the country didn't pass a happy time during the unofficial lockdown, the incidence of violence against women was low. Many of them, however, faced repression at home and those were almost underreported.
Human rights organisations pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a significant rise in domestic violence against women in many countries, including Bangladesh.
Nevertheless, expectations of some positive changes have also grown as a consequence of Covid-19. One of the expectations is that sensitivity to women will increase in the post-Covid period. Some incidents in the last few days, however, indicate that sensitivity to women is still a far cry in this country. Though it may be too early to draw such a conclusion as the post-Covid period is yet to take shape, one thing is clear that women abusers have started to vent their suppressed ill desire by whatever means they can.
Lack of cultural and educational orientation to respect women is a big problem which is not recognised correctly. From family to educational institutions, male members of society get little learning on how to behave with women and how to respect them. It is evident that a large number of families somewhat approve male members' repressive attitude towards female ones. In schools, colleges and universities, a good number of male students think that there is no harm in teasing and abusing their female fellows.
Again, men are influenced to enjoy sexual violence by distorted and violent movies, mostly from bollywood and videos available online. Easy access to the internet also opens the world of pornography to them. These things have negatively affected male of different ages and distorted their perception of women.
Though these and other factors are behind the growing repression on women, the main reason is the culture of impunity to do so. Over the years, society and state have created an atmosphere where abusers and intimidators go unpunished in most of the cases. From verbal teasing to physical torture, all types of repressive actions are either ignored or suppressed at different levels of society.
Most of the victims also don't take recourse to legal action for fear of further retaliation and non-cooperation from law enforcing agencies, reflecting the impunity enjoyed by abusers. They also have to think about social reprisal for being women. The deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes compel many of the victims to put up with the repression. All these again turn abusers reckless, and they dare prowl on their victims.
The role of political backing also can't be ignored. In many of the incidents, abusers get direct or indirect support from local political leaders and activists. Even if police move to take action against the criminals, most of them get political shelters and bypass legal procedure.
It is time to make a renewed effort to curb repression on women in every sphere of society. Law enforcing agencies need to be sensitised to take necessary legal actions against abusers and offer adequate assistance to women.