A recent survey by Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA) has found that men as young as under 18 years of age are involved in violence against women.
BNWLA Executive Director Salma Ali said that surprisingly 15% accused aged below 18 in 198 cases surveyed were involved in such offences including rape.
She disclosed the survey findings at a press briefing yesterday afternoon, organised as part of their 16-day-long observance of the International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women.
The 198 cases of violence against women were randomly chosen from 2,307 cases filed with 66 police stations in 2015.
She said: “Some 85% of the accused – aged around 35 or less – get more frequently involved in the crimes. As many as 37% of the accused are aged between 18 and 24 years, while another 34% between 25 and 34.
“Some 24% of the accused were facing rape charges.”
The BNWLA executive director said among them 67% had no previous criminal records. Some 81% accused are married while 52% hailed from joint families.
According to the survey, 32% of the accused studied up to SSC level or more, 9% are graduates while 7% are illiterate. “It implies that traditional education system failed to ensure safety for women,” observed Salma.
Offences rose by 5% in last two years
Quoting media reports, Salma said that in the last two years, Bangladesh experienced 5% rise in violence against women. Women and girls were mostly killed by their relatives during this period. Besides, a number of incidents took place in broad daylight like Risha murder and the attack on Khadiza.
During the press conference, Salma called the mother of Comilla Victoria College student Sohagi Jahan Tonu, who was killed inside the Comilla Cantonment on March 20, over the phone in front of media representatives. A wailing Tonu's mother said: “The administration could not identify the killers although eight months have passed. The case can be solved if the police arrest and question Sergeant Jahid.”
Meanwhile, Salma also criticised the approval of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2016 by the cabinet, saying that the provision of marriage of under-18 girls under special arrangement would increase child marriage in the country as people would try to abuse it.
She also expressed concerns over a Police Headquarters report that says fewer victims of sexual violence now seek legal assistance.
According to the statistics, some 14,237 cases have already been filed with police stations in VAW-related issues till October this year.
On the other hand, a recent survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and media reports show that the number of VAW-related offences has increased remarkably this year.