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A failure to protect

  • Published at 12:09 pm July 22nd, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:18 pm July 22nd, 2017
A failure to protect

Bangladesh is going through hard times.

“People” have grown too dependent on their rulers, and the rulers are suffering from a lack of perspective being surrounded by sycophants, leading to disjointed decisions being made regarding the future of our nation.

On the February 27, the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2017 was passed despite nationwide protests and requests from the more civil parts of our society. In order to make a decision which may have devastating effect on the lives of women, the administration resorted to a game of semantics to confuse and confound us.

What kind of a law is it that allows the parents of a girl who was raped to marry her off to the rapist himself?

The state could have delivered a stern warning by rejecting the bill, signaling that perpetrators of violence against women and girls wouldn’t be spared, and that the victims of violence would get better legal and physical assistance.

A country failing to provide safety to its citizens should come as a sobering testimony of the gross lack of human rights here. We are now openly fighting every inch of our way for a pluralist, liberal way of living.

In Bangladesh, women and girls are safe nowhere, not even within their families. We may have failed to put an end to violence against women in our society, but our failure to save children from being molested and/or sexually assaulted in madrasas and on the streets is simply inexcusable.

Bangladesh has been walking a tightrope for too long, as the state is, now more than ever, dangerously close to giving legitimate space to Islamist fanatics. It’s worrying that our politicians are now willfully diluting the secular foundations upon which our nation was built to that end.

Bangladesh has been walking a tightrope for too long, as the state is, now more than ever, dangerously close to giving legitimate space to Islamist fanatics

The number of women being subjected to violence, in both domestic and public settings, is the highest it has ever been. Islam has a storied history of oppressing women, the fact that the administration is now increasingly pandering to Islamists, coupled with the Child Marriage Restraint Act, all but makes sure that we have our own special version of the Sharia Law in effect.

No. Parading around a battalion of female police officers at the UN or pointing out a handful of ministers in the cabinet wearing blouses does not count as “female empowerment.” Far from gender parity, Bangladesh lacks any semblance of safety for women who need to step out of their own homes to support their families.

Certainly, Islamist fanatics such as Hefazat, with their 13-point demands against the empowerment of women, are celebrating. But Bangladesh is far from the “happy nation” that the international audience thinks of us as.

Growth indicators can only do so much.

Jahanara Nuri is a writer and human rights activist.

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