Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse in Bangladesh: A research roadmap for the way forward

With the initiative and support of Share-Net Bangladesh, two highly professional and accomplished researchers Dr. Sanzida Akhter and Md. Abu Naser has conducted the research on “Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse in Bangladesh: A research roadmap for the way forward”. Read the summary of the research below.

Research summary:

Intrafamilial sexual abuse is one of the most pervasive, yet under-reported, form of sexual abuse in Bangladesh. Recent statistics shows harrowing picture of child sexual abuse in Bangladesh, where every day, more and more children in Bangladesh, both male and female, are facing sexual abuse both in the household and outside.

Most of the time, the abusers are found to be somehow related to the children. Traumatic experiences of ISA and exploitation have long-lasting, in cases, life-long impact on the survivors, and can cause intense feelings of shock, rage, confusion, denial, chronic trauma, disbelief, and even guilt and shame. In cultures like the prevailing one in Bangladesh, that place a high value on female virginity, a girl who has been sexually abused may feel that she has been disgraced and is now “damaged goods” whom no one would want to marry.

A review of 217 studies, found 1 in 8 of the world’s children (12.7%) had been sexually abused before reaching the age of 18 (Stoltenborgh et al, 2011). At least 986 child rape incidents were reported in 2020, more than twice the numbers recorded in 2018 (444) and 2017 (470). The number was much lower in 2016 (280) (The Dhaka Tribune, 2020).

Despite the menacing threat child sexual abuse poses to the millions of children and adolescents in Bangladesh, the laws for protecting children are not yet fully implemented or standardized. On top of all, there is a huge data gap pertaining to ISA committed against children in Bangladesh. However, available information points to a spike in sexual violation of children within the family environment.

This study explores the prevalence of and factors associated with the incidence of intrafamilial sexual abuse that has happened to children and adolescents in Bangladesh based on perceptions of a broad range of actors, including adolescent and youth, counselors, educators, law-enforcers, parents, activists and civil society representatives. A qualitative approach in the collection and analysis of data.

It was revealed that intrafamilial child sexual abuse in Bangladesh is associated with a set of very subtle structural factors, which put children at risk of abuse, prevent children, families, and communities from reporting, while limiting the accessibility of laws, policies and services in regard for survivors and their families. There are ‘conflicts’ between normative/legal and traditional socio-cultural value systems in Bangladesh in that there is no comprehensive understanding of the underlying fundamental issues driving this phenomenon.

In order to make Bangladesh a safe and secured society for children, policy and programmatic responses firstly need to recognize this grave concern, and devise elaborate actions to resolve these issues. As a basic first step, a comprehensive national prevalence study on the prevalence, dynamics and the underlying factors associated with ISA is needed. Further in-depth research of the socio-cultural determinants of intrafamilial sexual abuse is also deemed absolutely necessary in the study, followed by inclusive and effective policy and programmatic measures to fight off ISA.


Dr. Sanzida Akhter
Chairperson and Associate Professor, Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka
She has over 20 years of experience in teaching and research and is also an Australian Leadership Awards Scholar

Md Abu Naser
Young researcher and development professional with a proven track-record with the UN system, specializing in gender, population and development related research, strategic planning and communications

Download the full report clicking the button below:

Download: Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse in Bangladesh: A research roadmap for the way forward



Share Button

Leave a Reply