On 30 March 2016, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad and School of Law, BRAC University jointly organised a youth awareness programme on the implementation of the directives given by the high court in 2009 regarding sexual harassment and stalking in educational institutions and public areas.
Speakers at the programme were Advocate Masuda Rehana Begum, Assistant General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Advocate Masuda Akhtar, Director of Legal Advocacy and Lobby, Dr. Saira Rahman Khan, Professor of School of Law at BRAC University, and Advocate Dipti Sikder, Central Committee member of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad.
Opening the programme, Dr. Saira Rahman Khan commented that the numbers of incidents of sexual harassment in Bangladesh was extremely high, and stalking and sexual harassment could untilmately lead to other crimes such as rape, death and even suicide. She said that along with the victim, anyone who protested the act faced threats and violence. She observed that lack of awareness and effective implementation of prevelant laws and poor investigation contributed to the prevalence of such crimes. She said that the directives of the High Court-- for the provision of guidelines for sexual harassment in all educational and professional institutions, for the enactment of victim and witness protection law, for amendments to legislation to tackle and punish acts amounting to sexual harassment-- must be implemented as soon as possible. Advocate Dipti Sikder said that legal education is a part of the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad's activities and awareness raising among youth is another important aspect of its work. She observed that everyone has at some point or another been a victim of sexual harassment, at home and in public - be it a look or a sound or a touch or gesture. She commented that youth can play an important role in changing attitudes and protest, prevent and help with advise and guidance - specially students of Law. Advocate Masuda Rehana Begum observed that women are victims of various forms of violence and sexual harassment is just one of them. Youth needed to unite against such forms of violence and the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad recognised the power of youth. She said that the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad has a role to play in the drafting of many important laws, including the Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Domon Ain anf the establishment of a Family Court; and now it was pushing for legislation to punish stalking and sexual harassment. She observed that it was unfortunate that sexual harassment was not on the political agenda and that political parties do not talk about this. She concluded by observing that the reservation to Article 2 of CEDAW must be lifted in order to enable women to enjoy legal rights without discrimination. Advocate Masuda Aktar told about the fact that there was discrimination and sexual harassment of women and girls in all spheres of public and private life. She focused mainly on explaining the impact of the contents of the directives given by the High Court in 2009 and the necessity for a Uniform Family Code. She said that it was high time for women to refuse to be treated like either a burden or an object of sacrifice.
Logistical support for the programme was provided by the BRAC University Law Society and the Office of Co-Curricular Activities, BRAC University.