Shattering Stereotypes, Ending Violence: A Call to Action for International Women’s Day 2024

“I have been suffering for so long. I feel like sobbing whenever I start talking about it.” These words echo the silent pain of countless women trapped in the cycle of domestic violence, their cries often unheard, their justice deferred.

Domestic violence is still extremely common in Bangladesh, where the horrors that occur within households frequently destroy the serenity of rural life. According to surveys, nearly two-thirds of women in the country experience some form of domestic abuse, yet the rate of seeking legal recourse is dismally low, hovering at a mere three percent.

A recent report by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and UN Women sheds light on the complex web of social and institutional barriers that prevent women from accessing justice. Despite the legal frameworks in place, societal norms perpetuate a culture of silence and acceptance of abuse. Fear of public shame, economic dependence, and the arduous legal process deter victims from seeking help.

The consequences of this systemic failure are dire. Victims endure physical, mental, financial, and sexual abuse, often with no respite in sight. Their stories, though heartbreaking, are not isolated incidents but rather emblematic of a larger issue plaguing society.

The reluctance to report abuse stems from a myriad of reasons. Women fear reprisals, loss of social status, and the stigma associated with being labeled a victim. Moreover, the lack of awareness about their rights further compounds their vulnerability, trapping them in a cycle of violence with no apparent escape.

The government’s efforts to address this crisis, while commendable, fall short of effectively combating the root causes of domestic violence. Programs like the Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence against Women offer essential services such as helplines and crisis centers. However, budget cuts and bureaucratic hurdles hamper their effectiveness, leaving many women without the support they desperately need.

Experts argue that a paradigm shift is needed to dismantle the pervasive culture of tolerance towards domestic violence. Recognising it not as a private matter but a violation of fundamental rights is crucial. Strengthening legal mechanisms, streamlining judicial procedures, and fostering awareness about available resources are essential steps towards empowering victims to seek justice.

As we commemorate International Women’s Day with the theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” let us not forget the countless women whose voices are silenced by violence behind closed doors. Their struggle for justice is not just a legal battle but a fight for their inherent rights to safety, security, and dignity. Until we collectively stand against domestic violence, their cries for justice will continue to echo unheard of in the shadows of society.

Share Button

Leave a Reply