Looking to a safe and secure place for women
Women's outrageous persecution in all parts of the country has increased to such an extent that they have almost lost the strength to protest against the dastardly acts even feebly. Traditional retorts like 'maa bone naai?' have long faded out from society, leave alone organising an impromptu gathering of the enraged but shattered humiliation victims. The sex-obsessed monsters are too strong and united to endure even insinuations about their crimes. Instead of being punished or reprimanded, they often swoop down on the persons supporting the victims. This situation prevails at venues irrespective of their locations. Given the fast urban encroachment on villages, the dastardly acts of abuse unleashed on women have lately emerged as a scourge in the vast rural swathes. Even minor female children are not spared. Due to the country's façade of being the torchbearer of a great heritage, Bangladesh used to be bypassed in discussions about the cancerous growth of women's sexual harassment. These observations are changing fast. To persons well-acquainted with the present Bangladesh society, the country is fast being shorn of the semblance of every civilised norm. According to many overseas analysts, on many counts today's Bangladesh lags behind even the chronically civil war-torn countries. On occasions, a section of the country's idealists advocating women's graduation from the infernal plight in which they are stuck in, are found caught in reveries of sorts. This sends a wrong message to the developed countries admiring Bangladesh for encouraging women to become self-reliant. However, the local media outlets carrying the sordid social picture of the country, vis-à-vis its persecuted women, remain out of reach of many pro-woman social platforms overseas.
Against this confused backdrop, a survey result saying nearly 87 per cent of Bangladesh women have passed through one or another form of harassment is quite depressing. The 24-district study focused on 5,000 women. The United Nations Development Programme, Bangladesh, National Human Rights Commission and the Centre for Research and Information carried out the survey this year. The jointly conducted survey's result came out last week. According to the survey findings, 36 per cent women face sexual harassment regularly while travelling on public transport like buses, motor-launches, trains; and also at crowded terminals. In response to queries related to the survey, 57 per cent of young women and teenage girls said they viewed public transport as the most unsafe for travelling. To add to the ordeal, women also have to endure the bitter experience of dealing with harassments at shopping malls, streets and all crowded venues. Taking the advantage of the digital age, the predatory and perverted males misuse the online platforms by targeting women. What happens in reality is they take recourse to video-recording of women clandestinely after sedating them. It's, however, a different kind of harassment leading to extortions.
The cities, primarily, witness harassments in the form intentional or deliberate touches of women's body parts while they try to disembark from a bus struggling through the male passengers at the gate. Another form of misdemeanor towards women is carried out by male passengers sitting next to them repeatedly leaning towards the women feigning sleepiness. Since there are few scopes for minor harassments there, the villages are nowadays overwhelmed by molestations of women and girls, some of which are also followed by the killing of the beastly acts' victims. With internet connections reaching up to even remote villages, the online filth of sex-related perversions, in the form of movies, has become a medium of pastime. It finally results in the growth of sex maniacs, indulging in drug-induced sadistic and beastly pleasure. It's these people both in the cities and rural areas who are suspected of becoming reckless when it comes to sexual assault on women.
Like seen in every society, illicit carnal desire and the wild hunt for mediums, i.e. women, to fufil it has been practised also in this part of the world since ancient times. But these socially condemned acts used to be committed at long intervals. It was because the males had never failed to view women with respect. The only exception, however, were the times of orgiastic jubilation of the medieval empires and kingdoms after their vanquishing of the enemies. Women were viewed as booties. Those primitive practices have long been over. In the present times women are not safe even in the sovereign independent countries. And if the countries happen to be insolvent with their literacy rate being low, the sufferings coupled with harassment know no bounds. According to women's rights activists, incidents of sexual harassment are more or less a common vice irrespective of the material or cultural achievement. However, the nature of carnal assaults on women and teenage girls in some Western societies is distinguished by its goriness. The percentage of this segment of the population is minuscule. The persons belonging to this group are identified as maniacs. They are no different from the serial killers. Like them, the sexual assailants eventually emerge as obsessive people nurturing a sick mind. They prefer to live a loner's life, wearing the guise of a peaceful gentleman. In cases, they live two lives: one shows a kind and normal man respecting family values. But they also have hideouts. Media reports on such secret dwellings serving as places of satisfying dark desires of the same males fill the foreign online outlets. Compared to the lately emerging detailed portrayals of the pervert males' orgiastic revelry, many ending in the killings of drunken and drugged women and other abnormalities, sexual aberrations in socio-economically disadvantaged countries remain mostly limited to making advances to innocent women. But these are also harassments. That the incidents have involved a panicked woman and a single male or a group of males intercepting her privacy, thus just bruising her self-respect, doesn't exonerate them. That they haven't inflicted physical injuries on particular women doesn't also lessen their crime.
Harassment of women and its unabated rise carries a distressing message for Bangladesh. With the country's young and energetic women entrepreneurs and workers, and many others having a great urge for pursing higher education, the prevalence of the spectre of sexual humiliation in public domain seems highly antagonistic --- both at mundane and ethical levels. It requires a gigantic reform campaign, resembling a renaissance of sorts, to keep the country's march on track. It is a complex and daunting task. But the mission can be assured of success, the glimmers of which will rejuvenate the nation. An alliance of persecuted women, the rights activists, sensible males expressing solidarity with women's emancipation struggles can take the 'second sex' out of the abyss all adversities. A government alone cannot fight this multi-layered battle. The people should provide their all-out backing.