• Wednesday, Aug 10, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

No country for women

  • Published at 05:19 pm July 1st, 2016
No country for women

I was awestruck by the news. A few days ago, news media reported that a religious leader in Amtali upazila of Barguna district has prohibited women from walking through the road that goes by the place where they hold religious congregations.

The disciples of the religious leader had also raised a sign-post at the entrance of the road, saying: “Women’s movement is strictly prohibited through this road.”

The disciples of the religious leader used highly insulting language whenever they saw any woman passing through that road. When this was covered in the media, the law enforcers, after quite a lot of thinking, could successfully bring down the sign-post.

However, no one is sure whether the women are being allowed to tread that road.

This brings us to the question of how we in Bangladesh treat our women. If this is the way we behave with the female folks, there’s a huge question mark on the attitude of the men folks.

I know this is an old subject to talk about and many organisations have been relentlessly working on the issue, but I’m not sure whether we have made any advances in this respect.

Our women are still looked down upon, discriminated, abused, and victimised.

A junior female friend of mine, working in a radio station, was telling me a story the other day. Their chief executive, while convening a meeting, gave her a power bank which he said he wouldn’t use.

This angered her male colleagues. They used sexually abusive language, saying: “He gave it to you because of the two breasts that you’re carrying; he’d have given it to us if we also had those.”

Appalled, I asked her: “Didn’t you tell them anything? Didn’t you protest?”

If we have a good and honest look at our mental backyard, we’ll discover a lot of women-unfriendly junk. The amount of junk is so high that it’d surprise us if we just listened to the experiences of the women

She said: “Come on, this is a normal way of talking in our office. We have to survive much more dangerous abuse on a regular basis. The guys think this type of language would inspire the girls to sleep with them.”

I don’t believe that her office is a lone example. There are millions of instances across the country; we don’t know about them because the women don’t talk about their bad experiences.

When I get time, I run an experiment regarding how we men look at our women.

Sometimes, I spot a boys’ adda or a crowd of men standing on the pavement; I stand quite close to them to see their expressions when a woman or a girl passes by.

It’s quite interesting to see that all of them ogle at various parts of the woman’s or the girl’s body passing by them. Almost no one looks at their faces.

And it’s more interesting to see the body language of the women when they pass by: All of them specifically know about the gazes of the men. They withstand the men’s gluttonous stares.

If the women protest, they are bound to become victims of violence. And this reminds me of how violently we sometimes torture our women.

A BRAC study this year said violence against women rose by 74% in 2015 compared to the year before.

This was prepared on the basis of field reports done by BRAC staff working in 55 districts across Bangladesh.

It also added that the number could be much higher, as 68% of incidents of violence against women go unreported. The study found 87% of Bangladeshi married women are abused by their husbands.

The figures look dangerous; it seems that these numbers are fabricated, made up. How can we be that bad? We’re not wife-beaters! We’re avaricious voyeurs! We don’t take women for granted!

But we are. If we have a good and honest look at our mental backyard, we’ll discover a lot of women-unfriendly junk.

The amount of junk is so high that it’d surprise us if we just listened to the experiences of the women. We as males probably don’t know what we really do to our women.