International Women’s Day encourages us to recognize women’s accomplishments but still tells everyone that gender equality remains an essential challenge. “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights,” this year’s theme for International Women’s Day (8 March), discusses ways in which creativity will strive towards gender equality, improve participation in gender-responsive social systems, and strengthen public services and infrastructure that serve women’s and children’s needs.
VOICE, Dhaka-based research advocacy and research organization based on justice, organized a dialogue aimed at countering violence against women and fostering the fair place of women in society and letting others know about the troubling things that are happening with women and children. Speakers stressed to end all forms of violence against women and girls and to ensure justice by applying legal measures. Among others, woman entrepreneur Farida Akter Kalpana, youth activist Afsana Jui, Poet Rahman Henry, writer Shamsuddoha Shoaib, TSP’s executive director Shafiur Rahman, Darpan’s executive director Mahbub Morshed, ALRD coordinator Masud Khan, entrepreneur Mojibur Rahman SHyamol spoke to the meeting.
VOICE Executive Director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud said that every year the International Women’s Day celebration makes us conscious of the great contributions that women make to society, but it also reveals flaws in the oppressive notion of a society that makes women suffer tremendously, keeping them away from decision-making processes and violence against women and children.
Ahmed Swapan also added that rape and torture become an epidemic in our society like coronavirus. Compared to 2018 with 2019 the incidents of violence against women are on the rise alarmingly. In 2018, the cases of child rape are 727 while in 2019 child rape victims are 815. The number of women raped in 2018 was 3900 while in 2019 women rape victims are 5400. And the number of children and women who died after rape is 35 in 2018 and it rose up to 38 in 2019. The number of kidnapped children and women in 2018 was 3731 while it became 4276 in 2019. The picture is dire alarming and all forms of violence against women and children must be an end quickly.
Speakers have said one of the imminent violence is online violence against women and girls which is rising alarmingly, making it almost impossible for teens to prevent it, in particular. This entails bullying apprentices by using blogs, text messages, e-mails and other automated forms of social media. This deviant behavior is not only confined to students but also with the people of all ages who can be the victim of cyberbullying due to the advent of communication and technology. Among the girls are mostly targeted by cyberbullying. Study shows that Facebook is the most used device of cyberbullying. About 58% claim Facebook for bullying, 23% claims instant messaging, 10% claim phone call and 9% of the total respondents claim WhatsApp, Twitter and other social networking sites for cyberbullying.
Speakers noted that young women are more likely to face severe sexualized and abusive online abuse than males. Notwithstanding poor institutional security, women regularly make a formal complaint of online space-borne assault, abuse, and violence. According to a study, 73 percent of women internet users have reported cybercrime. The government’s Information and Communication Technology Division’s Cyber Help Desk has received more than 17,000 complaints, 70 percent of complainants were women.
There is a growing awareness that men will play an important role in reducing violence against women, in collaboration with women. Speakers called for the government to take legal action against all forms of violence where the perpetrators are women and young people. It also stressed to raise social awareness and change the mindset towards women and girls positively and create enabling environment for everyone.
The meeting also released an “Exchange” newsletter highlighting the current state of cyber violence against women and girls in Bangladesh. At the workshop, which encourages attendees to comment on the forum, an open platform resistviolence.net is also introduced.