‘Moral, sex education needed to prevent sexual harassment’

Moral and sex education along with coordinated efforts from families, educational institution and administration are needed to prevent sexual harassment, child marriage and ensure the rights of girls, speakers said at a discussion on Saturday.

They made the observation at a webinar on ‘Exploring the reality and possible remedy of concurrent sexual harassment and rape issues in Bangladesh’ organised by Chittagong University Debating Society (CUDS).

Mehtab Khanam, the chairman of Education and Counselling Psychology at Dhaka University, urged the government to provide proper sexual education.

“Sexual education is a must to create awareness in the society. Educational institutions can bring big changes easily as it has a big impact on a child growing up,” she said.

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Khanam said many girls do not know about their rights or even concerned about them.

Nazneen Kawshar Chowdhury, joint secretary of member (Finance & Trade), Bangladesh Tea Board, said that we are used to blaming another and victim-blaming.

“We need to build social awareness and social movement against rape,” she said.

Bangladesh has seen a rise in the number of rape incidents in recent months. Between January and September this year, nearly 1,000 rape incidents were reported, over 200 of them gang rapes, according to Ain O Salish Kendra.

Many victims do not report assaults fearing social stigma or their safety.

A series of rape cases in recent months sparked countrywide protests prompting the government to make death penalty the highest punishment for rape.

The Human Rights Watch notes that the conviction rate for rape in Bangladesh is below 1 per cent.

Prof ABM Abu Noman, dean, faculty of Law, Chittagong University, also the moderator of CUDS, emphasised modernising the laws.

“The way a rape victim is interrogated is not okay. She may feel uncomfortable in court to speak about her rape incident in detail,” he said.

Ananna Chakraborty, mediation officer, Bangladesh Legal Aid Service Trust (BLAST), concurred.

Sakib Bin Rashid, chief instructor of Robi 10 minutes school, said most of our workspaces are not female-friendly.

The speakers also stressed the need to raise awareness about the issues.

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