• Saturday, Mar 25, 2023
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

On consent and women-friendly spaces

  • Published at 04:58 pm March 8th, 2020
Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The 'two-finger test' used as a standard procedure by doctors to check for rape was banned by the High Court, who said that the test has no scientific and legal merit, in a landmark verdict on April 12, 2018

Consent, especially for women is almost entirely disregarded, even when it comes to how they want to give birth, leading to a higher number of unnecessary, and sometimes dangerous C-sections in Bangladesh. 

“Before a C-section, the consent of the husband, mother-in-law or close relatives are taken ahead of consulting with the woman who is about to give birth,” said Forensic Specialist Muzaharul Huq at a discussion "High Court Directives to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination Against Women" on Sunday. 

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) organized the discussion at Biswa Sahitya Kendra, where four issues, C-sections, Muslim marriage instrument, two-finger test and no breastfeeding corners in public places were discussed by lawyers who filed a petition over them. 

About consent, Barrister Rashna Imam, who has filed the petition over unnecessary C-sections on behalf of BLAST, said: “Discrimination has no specific form. Private hospitals are not being monitored, there is no campaign about this.”

Barrister Sharmin Akter who filed a petition over the monitoring of the High Court ban on “two-finger test” asserted that they have come to learn that even after the verdict was served for not do the “two-finger test”, it was still happening.

“Even children are subjected to this test and this deters the parents from filing a case.”

The “two-finger test” used as a standard procedure by doctors to check for rape was banned by the High Court, who said that the test has no scientific and legal merit, in a landmark verdict on April 12, 2018.

The test was a vestige of the colonial era that sought to check the elasticity of the vagina – predicated on social prejudice that women who are sexually active cannot be raped. 

Barrister Sharmin further said: “Prostitutes, who regularly have sexual intercourse, pregnant women who are raped and even single women will have vaginal elasticity. What is the rationality behind still conducting this test?”

On Muslim marriage instrument, Advocate Aynun Nahar Siddiqua pointed out that even after The High Court Division directed the government to omit the word "Kumari" (virgin) from the Muslim marriage registration form, contained before the name of the bride, and instead use the word "unmarried" on April 25th, 2019, it still remains unimplemented.

She urged the ministry concerned to implement the court’s directive over it.

Advocate Ishrat Hasan, the petitioner for having public breast feeding corners spoke of her own difficulties when taking her infant out in public, saying that the socio-economic development of Bangladesh will advance with women friendly spaces.

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