Violence against women: A severe violation of right to life
“The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of a man towards a woman, having direct object the establishment of tyranny over her”
-Women's Rights Convention Manifesto, Seneca Falls, 1848.
Man and woman are like two wheels of carriage. Life can never be smooth sailing if one of its parts is neglected. They both contribute to the development of each other's personality. Women are the supreme inspiration, embodiment of love, pity and compassion. Women play a vital role in men's life as wife, mother, sister, daughter and any other relations. There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a great revolution in the history of women. Now a day, violence against women increasing day by day and Crime against women is one of the gravest of all crime, It is the most reprehensible act among all. Violence against women continuous to be a global epidemic that kills maims and tortures women physically, sexually, emotionally and economically. Islam says that man and women both created for each the other. “They are a vestment for you (man) and you are a vestment for them.” (The Holy Qur'an 2:187). Unfortunately, it is merely consider by our society or society members.
The term “violence against women” has no universal accepted definition; but, it may be define as, any act of physical, mental or sexual violence, and any attempted such violence, as well as the forcible restriction of individual freedom and privacy or arbitrary deprivation of liberty of a woman.
Article 1 of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in its Resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993 (83)) defines 'violence against women' as: 'Any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life'
The Council of Europe in its Recommendation Rec (2002)5 (84), 'violence against women' defines more closely as:
“Violence occurring in the family or domestic unit, including, inter alia, physical and mental aggression, emotional and psychological abuse, rape and sexual abuse, incest, rape between spouses, regular or occasional partners and cohabitants, crimes committed in the name of honour, female genital and sexual mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, such as forced marriages.”
The position of women in Bangladesh is not satisfactory since time immemorial. Women were treated as goods and chattel before, and until now the situation did not changed. Violence against women is amongst the most serious threats to overall development and progress in Bangladesh. Widespread violence and repression in numerous forms puts women's life at risk in almost all parts of the country. Daily news report are seen to be filled with atrocities including physical and psychological torture, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, dowry related violence, trafficking, forced prostitution, coerced suicide and murder. According to reports complied by women's rights organizations, over 5,500 women were subjected to violence last year. It is very alarming for us. In Bangladesh, a victimized woman usually tries to avoid the legal process. The reason behind that avoidance is the stigma by the society. She dares not to file complaints; fearing negligence and harassment in police station, courts and society. However, FIR lodged or complaint made by the woman but subsequently the female victim compel to compromise. This situation is been negated by the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan, which is reported in 2011 Pcr.LJ 1252.
Right to life is a phrase that describes the belief that a human being has an essential right to live, particularly that a human being has the right not to be killed by another human being. Everybody has right to life, which recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 3 and under Article 31 & 32 of Bangladesh Constitution. Life within the meaning of Article 31 denotes something more than animal existence. With reference to Vikrma v Bihar, [AIR 1988 SC 1782] and Chameli Singh v V.P., [AIR 1996 SC 1051] the court held that- “Right to life includes the right to live consistently with human dignity and decency.” But how much decencies and human dignity can ensure for the women by the society or government? Every movement our women are deprived from their dignity and right to get decencies. In another case, Bangladesh Jatiya Mahila Ainjib Samity Vs. Ministry of Home Affairs, 28 BLD (2008) 580, the court held that- “ Right to life includes right to security of life” But the women of our country continuously suffer the unsecured life for violence against women activities. The women have the right to life and liberty just as the men. For the women liberty includes the right to work with dignity free from sexual harassment. Apparently, it seems that each an everyday our women, from different part of the country are victim for the sexual harassment. In light of Visaka Case [AIR 1997 SC 2011], Salma Ali v Bangladesh [29 BLD (2009) 415] and Advocate Salahuddin v Bangladesh [63 DLR (2011) 80], the court held that, “It is the constitutional obligation of the government to enact law to protect the women at their work place and educational institution in order to preserve their fundamental right.” A women has right to lad a peaceful life, none can violate her right by unlawful acts. Therefore, violence against women is not only a crime but also severe violation of right to life of a woman. In the case of Lomas v Parle [2004, 1 ALL ER 1173] the court of appeal of England observed committal for breach of injunction protecting against domestic violence no leniency should be given in punishing the criminal.
The Supreme Court of India in State of M.P. v Babulal [AIR 2008 SC 582], held that, “Rape is the ultimate violation of the self. It is humiliating even in woman's life which leads to fear for existence and a sense of powerlessness.” In the case of Sanjay Kumar Jain v State of Delhi [2011, 11 SCC 733 in Para 45] his lordship Mr. Justice Dr. Dalveer Bhandari observed that, “This dowry system is a big slur and curse on our society, democracy and the country. All efforts must be made to combat and curb the increasing menace of dowry death.” We have enough laws to protect the women right and security. Problem is with the loopholes need to be resolved. In addition, it is to be ensured that the law in this regard should effectively implement. Concrete steps should be taken by the government, civil societies and the women activists for some development of this area. All the human rights organizations can take initiative to change this miserable situation as well. It is also important that parents and senior members of the family should educate youngsters in respect of moral and cultural values. On January 22, 2013 in the Daily Star editorial, the editor observed, “A strong coalition and united voice needed to fight violence against women.” It is obviously true to overcome this matter. Therefore, we should always remember that
“Their lives God where women are respected”
- (Manu Smiriti)
The writer is teaching Assistant, Department of Law, BGC Trust University Bangladesh.