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A different kind of domestic violence

  • Published at 12:53 am July 8th, 2018
Women bear the brunt of our crumbling legal system MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

There are laws in place to keep women from being abused economically

Twenty-six-year-old Lucky works at a garments factory in Dhaka. 

She is married to Faruk, who is a drug addict. They gave birth to two boys. Addiction became one of the biggest trials in Lucky’s marriage. It was getting worse and worse as time passed. Aggression, violence, unpredictable mood swings, and incapability to fulfill familial and occupational duties caused serious difficulties to her life and children.

Lucky decided to migrate overseas to support her children and to save her marriage. Her parents sacrificed what they could to help her.

They borrowed money from lenders at high interest rates and sold their property, livestock, and jewellery to arrange money for Lucky’s migration -- all done to send their daughter to an unknown destination in the hope of a better future for her.

For the first time, Lucky came to Dhaka.

It was a beautiful morning. The airport terminal was bustling with lots of passengers coming in and others leaving. There was a constant movement of both travellers and aircrafts. After clearing the security check, the passengers were heading to the waiting area. After bidding farewell to her family, Lucky was waiting in an area of the airport that allowed a clear picture of the runway. 

It was her first time travelling abroad. She was very nervous. She had never been this far from her children in her life.

Now, she toils long hours. Lucky lives in an unhealthy environment, she sleeps on the floor with no blanket or mattress. She takes only one meal per day to save the money for paying off debts and to support her poor family.

She sends money to the family every month so that her children can live happily. But Faruk uses all her money to support his drug habit. He was even stealing money that his wife sent. 

The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2010 was enacted to address domestic violence in Bangladesh, which includes financial abuse too.

The act is preventive and protective rather than punitive. It was enacted to ensure equal rights for women guaranteed in the constitution of Bangladesh and to prevent domestic violence.

The act’s definition of domestic violence includes economic abuse against a woman or a child in a family by any other person of that family with whom the victim is, or has been, in a familial relationship.

It also states the duties and responsibilities of police officers, enforcement officers, and service providers, the rights of the victim and the available remedies, the disposal of application, trial, and appeal, and offence and punishments. “Economic abuse” includes, but is not limited to:

(i) Deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources or property to which the victim is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under any law or custom or an order of a court or any other competent authority

(iI) Not allowing to use the articles of daily necessities to the victim

(iii) Deprivation or prohibiting the victim from applying legal rights to her stridhan or dower or alimony or any consideration for marriage or any property owned by the victim

(iv) Transferring, without consent, of the victim or prohibiting the victim from applying legal rights to any assets whether movable or immovable owned by her

(v) Depriving or prohibiting the victim from applying legal rights to continued access to resources or facilities which the victim is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the family relationship


S. 11 of Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, states that:

(i) A victim or, on her behalf, a police officer, an enforcement officer, a service provider, or any other person, can apply to get remedy according to the provisions of this act

(ii) Every application under sub-section (1) shall be submitted in such form as may be prescribed by the rule

(iii) The court shall fix the date of hearing the victim within seven working days after receiving the application under sub-section (1)Penalty for breach of protection order

As per s30, a breach of protection order by the respondent shall be an offence under this act and shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to Tk10,000, or with both and repetition of any offence shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, which may extend to Tk100,000, or with both.

 A large percentage of women remain exploited, because they are not aware of these laws. 

The constitution guarantees equal status and opportunity to all citizens of Bangladesh and ensures that anyone who violates the legal rights of the woman will be punished under the laws of land. To ensure the utility of such laws, the government has to take measures to enforce them adequately. 

Miti Sanjana is a Barrister-at-law from Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and an Advocate of Supreme Court of Bangladesh and an activist.