Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | ePaper

Safety to women still a long way

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A REPORT in a national daily quoting the finding of a research work said women in Bangladesh are still unsafe in public places —everywhere be it hospitals, public transports or police station. The disclosure came at a time when the government claims that the country is on the way to achieving gender parity at various levels such as in health, education when women empowerment is also on the high side in South Asian context. The disclosure said at least 42.5 percent women attending hospitals for treatment face rude behaviour by service providers. Around 50 percent faced inappropriate touch at market places.

They also face abuse at workplace such as in garment factories and at government and corporate offices. Girls are raped and even killed. Husband still physically tortures woman and they are not safe in public places -- in streets and highways. These are the dark side of our social life when we claim we are making tremendous socio-economic progress such as in removing poverty, malnutrition and improving female health care.  

It is true that participation of women has increased significantly at policy formulation level and also at field level where their presence in various activities is also noticeable to a large number. But when it comes to evaluate their position with men and their safety issue they are treated as second to man, not at per with man. Our social outlook and wrong religious belief is as such that the women are treated in degraded outlook.  They may be working at whatever level but have to live up with limitation as highly vulnerable to physical attacks and sexual abuse. Men are free but women are vulnerable - that can't be accepted at all. 

The government cannot alone alter the masculine dominated socio-cultural life. Women are not safe in streets and fall victim to masculine hands. What the study report said is the real face of the society that can only be overcome slowly with more social awareness and organized resistance against such abuse. Law and order must improve; oversight at offices and work places must be strengthened and guilty must be punished. The problem is that most victims don't make disclosure fearing more reprisal and shame. That is their weakest point for exploitation.  

From over 400 women took part in the study, about 70 percent said they were not safe in buses and at bus stands, 30 percent were victims of eve-teasing at police stations while 35 percent suffered physical torture by law enforcers. They faced insults at police stations, city corporation offices or faced abuse in public transports. They were exposed to abuse at market places and hospitals.

It is a shame that public service sector in the country is not female-friendly where people take advantage of women seeking service of one sort or another. This is a daunting challenge and men and women together must fight for bigger safety of women in the society.

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