The Financial Express

Persecuted, yet finally unstoppable

Persecuted, yet finally unstoppable

The news is distressing. It carried the report of a troubling incident that occurred in a week of the International Women's Day on March 8. Thus it carried elements of much irony. News reports like it have long been a staple in the Bangladesh media. Divorcing a woman for giving birth to a girl child and throwing her out of the house by the husband is a not-uncommon spectacle in this country. The latest newspaper report focused on such a cruel treatment meted out to a rural mother only adds to the list of the victims, who continue to suffer in silence. Against the backdrop of the progresses being made by the country's women in almost all sectors, reports of such incidents emerge with elements of incredulity. Many believe the covertly nurtured misogynist attitude towards women is fully alive in Bangladesh alongside their march.

According to the disillusioned social observers, it may take a longer time for Bangladesh to find its women fully liberated. Whenever the state of women's emancipation in the country surfaces at any colloquium, the observations made by the experts appear mercilessly unsparing. But they tell the bitter truths. In the mostly hidden pockets of society, these critics maintain, women in general are treated as objects of all types of oppression and neglect. To put it in a crass manner, in many social segments women are mere objects of male biological desire. They are also viewed as the medium of generating family income. In some indigenous communities, women shouldering the task of making a living to feed the whole family and the males carousingare nearly sacrosanct. But social angst is inevitable when the trend makes inroads into the mainstream Bangladesh society.

The saga of the girl-children is a different issue, but it's inextricably linked to the plight of women in society. In the fifty years of the country's independence, both rural and urban women have been seen making great strides. Social and economic sectors and education appear to be the dominant ones. A most worrisome aspect galling the conscious social observers is the male indifference towards these achievements made by women. Critics used to making incisive assessment of these situations point to the ingrained and skewed male attitude towards women for it. Apart from the higher-educated and enlightened segments, the lives and careers of women have lately undergone spectacular changes in Bangladesh. Coming to education, girl-children at primary and secondary school stages have left proofs of their invincibility. They have proved impressively that they can equal boys, and even go past them, in educational performances. At higher secondary and university levels, they no longer lag behind male students.

After securing covetable Classes, previously limited to brilliant male students, female career-women these days are found joining professions of university teaching, cadre service covering all segments of administration, as well as international civil service like that of the UN. Women in their capacity as chief executive officers (CEOs) of large commercial houses are a common scenario these days. Lots of women have embarked on their own businesses. Many are considered large entrepreneurs. A similar scenario could also be seen in the rural areas, with small and medium female entrepreneurs well set in their commercial ventures.

Coming from middle and lower middle-class background, young women are found sitting beside chief pilots in the cockpits as co-pilots of large aircraft, and driving locomotives all alone. Current features point to a brave new age vis-à-vis the women of Bangladesh. The 21st century wishes them journeys to the frontiers of what they can achieve in their humble ways. Bon voyage, women of Bangladesh! This country has never been a part of the primitive culture in any region, where a girl-child would be viewed as a presage of disasters in the family.

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