Domestic violence: In search of a legal framework
Women are customarily treated as inferior members of society. The life of many women in Bangladesh continues to be dominated by a patriarchal social system. Studies show that nearly half of all Bangladeshi women are subjected to domestic violence. Despite the disturbing statistics, the reportage of incidents of domestic violence remains remarkably low. This is due to the fact that domestic violence in Bangladesh is largely considered as private matter. As a result, Bangladeshi women subjected to domestic violence are in a very vulnerable position: seeking justice can often lead to further abuse.
Sadrul Hasan Majumdar, Project Coordinator of BNWLA shared his experience on a dialogue meeting of dissemination of research on domestic violence, which was held at BILIA auditorium on June 21. The research study shows that discrimination against women and girls starts from the very birth of a girl child and it is largely rooted into our traditional culture and social practices. Lack of proper laws and their implementation perpetuates women's subjugation to men and makes them more susceptible to repression leading to violence. The shame and stigma, the trauma and humiliation inflicted upon women and children through any such happening forgoes a long lasting adverse affect in the lives of the victims, which may in some cases end up in their mental and physical disorder leaving little hopes for their survival. Moreover, acute poverty also restricts their access to justice systems.
According to the study domestic relationship however viewed as relation between husband wife, father, mother, daughter, son and other who lives with a family for one or more than one years. But in cases of paying guest who live within the same roof does not comprise the relationship. It has been viewed that physical demarcation is needed to develop definition of family. The members residing in abroad do not come within family rather those living under the same roof come within the definition of family.
The study identified different factors that perpetuate domestic violence
- Gender specific socialization
- Cultural definition of appropriate sex role
- Expectation of roles within relationships
- Belief in the inherent superiority of male
- Values that give men proprietary rights over women and girls
- Notion of the family as private sphere and under male control
- Customs of marriage (bride price, dowry)
- Acceptability of violence as a mean to resolve conflicts
- Women's economic dependence on men
- Limited access to cash or credit
- Discriminatory laws and practices regarding inheritance, property rights, maintenance etc;
- Limited access and opportunities to employment in formal and informal sector
- Limited access to education and training
- Limited social mobility and segregation
- Lesser legal status of women either by written law or and by custom
- Discriminatory laws against women
- Confusion in legal definitions
- Low level of legal literacy among women
- Insensitive treatment of women and girls by judiciary and police
- Customary structures of decision making such as Grammo Shalish etc,
- Under representation of women in power structures
- Violence against women not taken seriously
- Women Policy that does not reflect aspiration women
Advocate Salma Ali, executive director of BNWLA gave her welcome speech while Nasreen Begum, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and parliamentary affairs were present as chair person at the dialogue meeting. Honorable judges of Women and Child Repression and Prevention Tribunal Mr. Mojibul Kamal, Ms. Nurunnahar and Ms. Monowara Begum shared their views regarding domestic violence and pointed out different problems they usually faces while trying any offence like violence against women. Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Sara Hossain, Dr. Faustina Parreira also spoke at the discussion meeting. All the participants discussed about different possible ways to find the root cause of domestic violence and how to eliminate it from the society. The participants agreed upon that a separate legislation is urgent to address domestic violence and hence a combined effort is needed for ensuring access to justice to the millions of silent victims.