POST TIME: 19 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Sensitise people for preventing sexual crimes

Sensitise people for preventing sexual crimes

That sexual harassment of women is not decreasing in Bangladesh should not surprise anybody. There are many reasons for the trend. Firstly, there are strict laws for the prevention of crimes against women, but these laws are hardly implemented. As punishment is rarely given, people do not know that there are tougher laws.

It is not only the society’s backward section of people is ignorant about laws and directives, society’s advanced section of people is also not aware of them. According to a report published in this newspaper yesterday, most university students and professionals are not aware of the directions of the Supreme Court (SC) to prevent sexual harassment that were issued in 2009. The court urged educational institutions to increase awareness among students, form committees and implement the guidelines by its directives.

ActionAid Bangladesh that presents statistics on the matter in its study, ‘Sexual Harassment at Educational Institutions and Workplaces: Implementation Status of the 2009 Supreme Court Guidelines’ finds that 87 per cent of public and private university students do not know about the SC directions, and those 13 per cent who know about it only remotely heard about the guidelines. There are sexual harassment committees in universities, but 84 per cent of the students do not know about it.

The students are not to blame. If the SC directives are not well circulated on the campus how would they know? There should have been campaign on the campuses about the matter, by the sexual harassment committees as well as by the university authorities with the help of relevant ministry. But that did not happen.

The problem is somewhere else. In Bangladesh, society as a whole is still desensitized towards the cause of woman. The male members of society do not treat them with equal dignity that they deserve. Had that not been the case, a leading Islamic scholar of the country  would not have, just a few days ago, erroneously taken from his followers the promise to educate their girl children only up to class four or five.

Society has to come out of this harmful mindset if it really wants to reduce events of violence against women. A social battle has to be launched against it. Laws are enforced by the law enforcement agencies and these agencies also need to change their attitude towards women.