Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 4 Issue 15 | October 2, 2004 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   A Roman Column
   Human Rights
   In Retrospect
   Time Out
   Straight Talk
   Book Review
   Dhaka Diary
   New Flicks
   Write to Mita

   SWM Home



Privacy Looted

Tabassum Amina

We all know that the women of this country are fighting for their social, economic and legal rights. But do they even enjoy their basic rights as human beings? The fight that women's organisations are putting up today involving rights of women are detailed and complicated and will take time to realise in a male-dominated society. When a woman in this country is deprived of simple, civilised prerogatives like privacy, then how can we expect her to be able to enjoy bigger things like property or political rights?

A few years ago a young woman, named 'Badhon', became the victim of a mob's voyeuristic harassment on the night of December 31. She was out with friends to celebrate the New Year. She went to the campus of Dhaka University where she was molested by men who were students there. Many of them were drunk. But was that a good enough excuse for them to act in such a heinous manner? Typically, after the event most people blamed the girl saying that she shouldn't have been there at that time. Some even claimed that she was wearing provocative clothing. Therefore it was the woman's fault, as men can't control themselves; their physical needs control their minds. It is the singular responsibility of women to stay in control and to remain hidden away from everything. Does this mean that women are the only human beings, and they alone should be careful how they behave or dress meanwhile it is not expected of men to behave rationally and there is nothing wrong if they are controlled by their animal instincts?

A few weeks ago, a video camera was found hidden in the bathroom of Rokeya Hall. The authorities there were informed of this bu took no serious steps. Again a few days ago another camera was discovered and this was reported in the newspapers. After it was published the Hall's authorities decided to look into it. They concluded that they did not have any confirmation that any copies of the video recordings were made. However many students of Dhaka University heard that such copies were being circulated in the men's halls. If this is true then how could the authorities lie? Our society is always looking for ways to blame women. How will it blame women now? How could it be their fault? Their privacy has been narrowed down so much that they can't even use a public toilet, not even in their own commonroom or in their hostel without worrying that there may be a camera hidden somewhere. The women's hostel is supposed to be one of the safest places for women who live away from home and yet here we see that it has become one a place where their privacy is violated.

Women are treated as commodities in this country. They are used to satisfy used men's lust and their privacy is being shattered for business. There is no place left for them to take shelter. How far will this go?

Privacy is something to which every person has a right -- be they male or female. Some of us prefer more privacy than others, but everyone wants it to a certain extent and has a right to it. Our society seems to have forgotten their daughters and sisters. They are subjected to the worst forms of molestation, humiliation and torture and society has lapsed into an ominous silence.

Women's organisations are fighting for women rights in a number fields, but before fighting for those rights it is more important to ensure that women have minimum privacy and are able to live decently. If we aren't able to provide this minimum security then women will lose confidence in society as well as themselves. As a result, they will not be able to come forward and will withdraw themselves to a dreaded isolation. We will see that women will become more and more confined and withdrawn from mainstream society eventually being pushed back into the Dark Ages.


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2004