70pc girls face body shaming and other harassment

Violence against womanProthom Alo illustration

Since childhood to adulthood, body shaming never stopped for this girl. Since very young she's been hearing comments "how fat she is!" As she grew into adulthood, she had to endure taunts about her dark skin as well. The girl finished her university studies about two years ago and now works at a private firm. She told Prothom Alo that these people who tormented her in this manner ranged from close relatives and neighbours to even strangers.

In a survey conducted by Anchal Foundation, a social organisation, it was found that 69.92 per cent of young women are victims of body shaming. A major part of them were body shamed by their own relatives.

The survey titled Socioeconomic Background of girls and its impact on mental health' was conducted last month. About 1,014 college and university going girls took part in the online survey.

Tansen Rose, founding president of Anchal Foundation, informed Prothom Alo that insults, sexual harassment, social and familial obstruction, negative outlooks all affected girls' mental health and this surfaced in this survey. The survey was conducted marking 8 March International Women's Day, said Anchal Foundation.

The survey report showed women aged from 18 to 30 of various districts and divisions across the country participated in the survey. Among the respondents, 88 per cent were unmarried. And 11 per cent were married while the rest were previously married.

Relatives taunt more

More than 37 per cent of the girls who took part in the survey said regarding their relatives insulted them verbally or through hints about their physical appearance. And 22 per cent were teased by friends. Another 14.25 per cent talked about hearing snide comments from family members and 12 per cent had to face comments from passers-by.

Anchal's survey showed more objectionable remarks were made for being overweight (39 per cent). For skin colour, 37 per cent had to endure negative comments. Apart from that, girls have to endure disagreeable comments on their figures, bad skin and even voice, according to the survey.

The survey also showed 45 per cent and more girls fall victim to sexual harassment in public transport. Of them 84 per cent girls face harassment in buses or at bus stands.

Bullied since childhood

According to Anchal's survey, about 39 per cent young women were bullied in their childhood. Of them, 35 per cent were sexually harassed by their relatives. Over 28 per cent of the girls were victimised at the hands of complete strangers. They said those childhood experiences caused them to lack confidence in themselves. This also sparked off an anti-male attitude in their mindset. Apart from that, 15 per cent were frightened to stay alone. Due to childhood sexual harassment a woman has to go through mental problems throughout their life.

It was seen in the survey that about 44 per cent girls have faced trouble online. Among them 61 per cent were put into embarrassing situations by receiving distasteful texts or comments while the social media accounts of 10.34 per cent were hacked.

Sexual harassment in public transport

The survey also showed 45 per cent and more girls fall victim to sexual harassment in public transport. Of them 84 per cent girls face harassment in buses or at bus stands. Other than that incidents of sexual harassments also happen in trains, train stations or in ride sharing services, said women.

Among sexual harassment in public transport 64 per cent girls fall prey to undesirable touch. 20 per cent endure stares and trailed upon.

Shah Ehsan Habib, Professor at the Department of Sociology, Dhaka University believes the scenario of harassment of young women depicts reality. He thinks harassment rates are increasing even further. He says that the fostering of misogynist attitudes against was responsible for this.

Professor Ehsan said. "Very rarely is zero tolerance against harassments of women displayed. Moreover, the harassers are receiving political backing."