College Papers

Gender of Statistics (BBS) survey on Domestic Violence

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is an extreme
demonstration of unfair power relations. It stalks from gender hierarchies that
brings about and provides authority to VAW. The Declaration on the Elimination
of Violence against women (1993) defines VAW as a subcategory of GBV that
results in or is likely to result in physical psychological harm or suffering
to women whether occurring in public or private life. VAW is an infringement of
women’s human rights and a blockade to women’s full and equal participation in
social, economic and political life. In Bangladesh, VAW essentially originates
from social patterns, lack of access to legal protection, – lack of effective
laws and religious propaganda. The content of social syllabus is based on one
formula that is “women are made vulnerable by men but they can be made safe
only by men which ultimately makes women dependent on men”. As a consequence the
systematic nature of patriarchy supports VAW both in private and public ways
behind closed door and on city streets. For me violence is an expression of
class, gender, heterosexual dispensation and a problem of dysfunctional or
pathological families.

In Bangladesh, VAW is a very common practice which
denies women’s equal prospect, safety, self-worth, and stateliness in the
family and in the society as a whole. Although Bangladesh is a signatory to
various UN conventions on gender equality, has in place policies and legal
provisions that address VAW and has formulated a National Action Plan to
Prevent Violence against Women and Children (2013 – 2025) however, the
situation of women in terms of violence is very bleak. A Bangladesh Bureau of
Statistics (BBS) survey on Domestic Violence in 2011 revealed that 87% of
married women are subject to some forms of violence.1 The problem is the
conservative policy that has proven to be largely futile in reviewing the
complexities of patriarchal structures which thus crafts gender as asymmetric
endowments, risks and constraints and as a result it compels women to remain
within its limitations.

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The empowerment of women as a way of mounting female
agency is an obligatory requirement to stop VAW in Bangladesh. There is a
requirement for a holistic approach using multidimensional strategies that
address the root causes of women’s susceptibility as well as its impact. At the
same time, it is decisive for any strategy that seeks to empower women to take
control over their lives and transform gender and power relations to also
involve men. This is because a women’s empowerment strategy without the
involvement of men is at best a partial solution and at worst could create
further divergence and more problems by increasing men’s feelings of
estrangement. Admiration for human wellbeing and rights cannot be discretionary
in development; it is fundamental to the kind of development that will
determine full potential of the society. Governments, NGOs and international
organizations have a key role in addressing more directly the question of human
rights so that the quality of development receives as much attention as its more
quantitative aspects.

We need to remember that sustainable development
cannot be achieved until women of a country can obtain their due rights.
Although, adequate legislation are in place, the most significant hurdle of the
next few decades will be to change public attitudes so that GBV becomes
socially unacceptable linked to the issue of substantive equality must be the
recognition that women are not a homogenous group.  Women do not experience violence and discrimination
in the same way-thus we must take it into account that women is a heterogeneous
group. Issues must be analyzed by gender lens and lens of intersectionality. In
addition traditional expansion interventions have failed to engage men
lucratively or deeply enough in women’s rights movement. This is because a
women’s empowerment strategy without the involvement of men is at best a
partial solution and at worst could build further clash and more troubles by
increasing men’s feelings of hostility. At the same time, it is crucial for any
strategy that seeks to empower women to take control over their lives and
transform gender and power relations to also involve men. Men’s roles
responsibilities, attitudes as well as behavior are needed to be brought into
work on GBV and it is very important to note the political framework taking
into account the gender power relations. Various movements like ‘He for She’
has highlighted the role of men and boys in taking leadership in changing
gender stereotyping. So there is a need for all men to speak out against
violence and for women and men to work together to challenge the existing
definitions of masculinity that provide the foundation for violence. At the
same time it is important to avoid the trap of thinking that all men are
violent by nature. We will have to think that while some men are part of the
problem, all men are part of the solution or can be part of the solution. The
most significant impact should come from the construction of nonviolent
masculine distinctiveness and a cultural harmony in which GBV is delegitimized.

Finally, a gender sensitive lens only reveals the
frequency of gender hierarchy, which thus brings some hope. We demand the
realization of justice and whatever our commitments we cannot pursue towards
justice. There is no single enemy to fight or simple strategy to follow -but
there is much that we can do. We turn now to consider different aspects of this
changing context, which are cumulatively raising new questions about VAW and
its future. Why society does not hold women responsible for their violence?
Women should be pointed out and therefore required to be held responsible.
Wieringa claimed in the question of transformation that ‘women should learn to
define their own problems’.2 Women therefore should
share their responsibility for their behavior of acceptance of violence.
Therefore gender equality and women empowerment cannot be attained in the
absence of equal rights and women themselves have to be the active agents for
this change and only then GBV can only eliminate these gender inequalities. It
is therefore essential for women to engage in constructive debate with policy
makers and negotiate the conceptual and policy issues that affect them
directly. Noting Fraser’s suggestion to shift focus from “who gets what” to
“what people need” in a welfare state, policy makers should consider.3 There is no doubt that
social dialogue can easily address the illogical discrimination against women
because dialogue takes different roots, new ideas and brings diversity.
Egalitarian views need to develop between men and women so that the
differentiation between femininity and masculinity is resolved. Therefore
achieving gender equality in Bangladesh means countering cultural and hegemony
of masculine power. The policy in Bangladesh is silent on addressing the
cultural inequalities that can challenge adverse social system.

This is the biggest challenge of the policies designed
to heighten the position of women, the intent is good but when it comes to
implementation there are neither clear channels of execution or monitoring.
Upgrading of women’s situation cannot be achieved without an acceptance of the
impenetrability they face and the needs they have. Therefore effectual relevant
action to improve the underprivileged position of women requires synchronization
of research, policy and action. Therefore the planners should deem that woman is
a social agent and that it is necessary to take an agent oriented approach on
women’s agenda.4
Therefore women need to be assisted through holistic approach and comprehensive
programmes that not only address their lack of productive resources but also
their subordinate situation within households and society at large. In sum,
there is a need for multipronged policies to address the needs of different
categories of women in Bangladesh. Thus social dialogue and public debate is
more powerful for transforming traditional mindset or cultural norms. Wieringa
claimed that on question of transformation women should learn to define their
own problem.5
Gender equality cannot be attained in the absence of equal rights and women
themselves have to be the active agents for this change. Therefore, a more
serious understanding and analysis of political, economic and social realities
being faced by men and women in developing countries is needed, otherwise
gender equality interventions designed towards that end will always be a
fallacy.

1 Bangladesh Bureau
of Statistics (2013). Report on Violence against Women Survey 2011.  Accessed: 9 January 2018, available at: http://203.112.218.65:8008/WebTestApplication/userfiles/Image/LatestReports/VAW_Report_2011.pdf

2
Wieringa, Saskia.(1994). Women’s
interests and empowerment: gender planning reconsidered, Development and Change. 25: 829-848.

3
Fraser, Nothing. (2003). Redistribution
and Recognition? A political
Philosophical exchange, London ,New York: Verso.

4
Sen, Amartya. (1990). Gender and
Cooperative Conflicts’ .I .Thinker (ed.). Persistent
inequalities: Women and World Development, Oxford University Press .123-
145.

5 Wieringa, Saskia. (1994). Women’s interests and empowerment:
gender planning reconsidered, Development
and Change. 25: 844.