Seeking immediate help and complaints higher in Dhaka

Amidst such a scenario of women repression, International Women Repression Prevention Fortnight is beginning today, 25 November.

It was a female teacher who had shared the incident with this correspondent. She used to live in Dhaka towards the beginning of her marriage in 2020.

In April the next year, while quarrelling with her about her dowry, her in-laws pushed her into a pond at their house in the village.

Later, her husband kept pushing into the pond and making her stand in the water for hours.

At her screams and cries, a few people from the village called the national emergency service at 999 several times and the local police came to her rescue.

Following the incident she filed a case against her husband on the accusation of torture for dowry.

Last year, when a woman from the capital’s Uttara called 999 after being beaten by her husband, she was advised to go to the police station. However, she didn’t file a case in the end.

Such incidents of seeking immediate help and filing complaints in cases of women and children repression are occurring throughout the whole country. About 42,000 such calls have been received by 999 in the past five years.

Among them, most number of complaints has come from Dhaka. In the past five years, more than 10,000 calls, seeking immediate assistance and reporting complaints, have come from Dhaka district in 12 types of repression incidents.

These calls consist 24 per cent of the total calls received by 999 from all over the country. Almost 20 per cent of these calls are from Dhaka city. In five years, the lowest number of calls came from three hill tract districts Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban, which are just 170.

Since being launched on 12 December, 2017 till October this year, 999 has recorded complaints coming from a total of 72 areas including 64 districts and 8 metropolitans in five years.

The list of complaints include murder, torture, torture by husband, torture by parents, torture for dowry, teasing and sexual harassment, rape, attempt to rape, sexual abuse and acid violence.

Many of these complaints remain limited to seeking immediate assistance only and don’t go to the extent of a lawsuit.

Among them, there are about 10,500 complaints of husband torturing wife, 5,000 complaints of sexual harassment and abuse as well as about 3,000 complaints of rape.  

According to Nasima Akhter (Jolly), general secretary of National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, the actual number of repression-against-women incidents are way higher than this.  

She told Prtothom Alo that the awareness there has come about filing complaints in case of falling victim to repression in city areas including Dhaka, hasn’t come in rural areas.

Many incidents of repression just end at the arbitration, she added.

Amidst such a scenario, International Women Repression Prevention Fortnight is beginning today, 25 November with the theme ‘UNITE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls’.

Along with many other countries of the world, Bangladesh too has taken up various programmes on the government and private levels to observe the fortnight till 10 December, World Human Rights Day.

Md Muhibuzzaman, additional secretary of the women and children affairs ministry told Prothom Alo that crimes on different platforms are increasing in line with the growth of population.

The initiatives government has for preventing women repression were hampered during the Covid period.

Now their effectiveness has been amplified. Just like cities, awareness about using hotline numbers to ask for help is being increased in villages as well.

Alternate police system required

Muhammad Omar Faruk, professor of criminology and police science at Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University told Prorthom Alo, 60 per cent of the repression incidents against women and children are happening in cities.

However, not even 25 per cent of all the crimes are being reported for the trial process is not people-friendly, he added.

In order to overcome this situation, an alternative police system has to be developed based on the model of developed countries, where police, local people, victims as well as criminals will be included.

He remarked that it’s impossible to eradicate crimes keeping the criminals isolated.