Meeting on sexual harassment of women during C-19 held
An online meeting on sexual harassment of working women in the formal sector during the Coronavirus pandemic was held recently where the speakers emphasized on strong law to stop violence against women.
They said if the violence against women continues, the Bangladesh can't achieve its goal.
However it is very difficult to find reliable statistics on sexual harassment of women in Bangladesh, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing these limitations, a survey was conducted with the support of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, Plan International and the Girls' Advocacy Alliance to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment of women working.
Later an online meeting was held in this regard on August 29.
Advocate Md. Fazle Rabbi Mia MP, Hon'ble Deputy Speaker, Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad was present as Chief Guest in the Experience Meeting. Advocate Md. Samsul Haque Tuku MP, President Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights and Standing Committee on Home Ministry, Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad were present as special guests. Badiul Alam Majumder, Global Vice President and Country Director, The Hunger Project anchored the programme. The research data was presented by Nasima Akter Jolly, Editor, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum.
Also present on the occasion were Mr. Samil Uddin Ahmed Shimul MP, Mrs. Shipa Hafiza, Equality and Rights Activist and Social Analyst, Mr. Afroz Mahal, Dhaka and Portfolio Manager, Plan International Bangladesh, Mrs. Shahin Akter Dolly, Vice President National Daughter Advocacy Forum and Executive Director Nari Moitri and Mrs. Wahida Banu, Executive Director, Oporajeyo Bangladesh.
Nasima Akhter Jolly said a questionnaire with 20 questions was prepared as a sample for the study. The survey was later conducted by a data collection team of 24 people. Initially, a list of 390 women working in the institutional sector was compiled (random sampling). Subsequently, 135 working women who had been sexually harassed participated in the survey. The research was conducted in July, 2020. The data is taken from March 8 to June 30. The incidents of sexual harassment that occur during these three months are collected. Of the participants, 72 were interviewed live and 63 were interviewed by telephone. In addition, 8 focus group discussions (F, G, D) were conducted where a total of 36 women participated and KII (Key Information Interview) was conducted with 11 women working in government and non-government organizations.
She said 100 per cent of the 135 women who participated were sexually harassed in their workplaces. Of these, 41.48 per cent have been sexually harassed 2-3 times, 25.93 per cent women have been sexually harassed 4 to 5 times, 22.96 per cent women have been sexually harassed 1 time and 8.69 per cent women have been sexually harassed 8 to 10 times during this period. . Out of 135 people, 61 have been sexually assaulted (45.19 per cent) and 60 have been sexually assaulted orally (59.25 per cent). 64 persons i.e. 48.41 per cent women, 60 (44.44 per cent) were harassed by supervisors, 8 (85.19 per cent) by managers / bosses, 8 (5.93 per cent) women were harassed by their employers. Fifty-two per cent (62.96 per cent) of participants said that the inferior mentality of women was due to masculine mentality. 116 (8.40 per cent) think women do not protest, 106 (69.25 per cent) lack legal protections, effective policies and procedures in the workplace, and 58 (42.22 per cent) think they do not protest. At times, men have taken it as an opportunity to weaken the financial or social status of women.
She added that when the employer or organization was asked about allegations of sexual harassment, 110 (61.48 per cent) said they had not complained or not informed the employer. 19 (only 14.08 per cent) women reported the matter to the employer or organization. Among respondents, 48 (34.06 per cent) women said they knew that there were policies to prevent sexual harassment in their organization / workplace. However, only 15.56 per cent of them have seen the policies and the rest have not seen or read the policies. A large portion of respondents, 69, are unaware that there is a need for a policy on sexual harassment in the workplace or that the High Court has a guideline in this regard. Of those surveyed, 117 (69.40 per cent) felt that a comprehensive law was needed to prevent sexual harassment. Eighty-five per cent of women say the law should be properly enforced.
Shifa Hafiza said that the main reason for violence against women is of not treating women as human beings. We did not follow the 2009 directive of the High Court to prevent sexual harassment of women. I think there should be a commission to make people aware of the directive of those who are carrying out various important responsibilities.
Mr. Samil Uddin Ahmed Shimul, Member of Parliament for Chapainawabganj-1 constituency said, "If we want to stop sexual harassment against women, we have to change our mentality." In addition, counseling should be provided for abused women.
Advocate Samsul Haque Tuku MP said, "I would like to thank the Girl Child Advocacy Forum for conducting such an important survey during this time of coronavirus. You are also helping to enact a law to prevent sexual harassment. The present government is trying to take Bangladesh to a bigger place. If such atrocities continue against half of the women in the population, it will not be possible to achieve our goal.
Advocate Fazle Rabbi Mia MP said that sexual harassment against women has become a disease all over the world. We need to keep trying to implement the recommendations you have made here. We are trying to formulate a comprehensive law. I hope to be able to present the law in Parliament within this year. However, it is not only necessary to make laws, but also to make everyone aware at the national, international and grassroots levels.
Dr. Badiul Alam Majumder said sexual harassment is a bad behavior. It exists among people of all walks of life in all societies of the world. However, its prevalence is higher in patriarchal amazement. The main reason for this is the attitude of men to dominate women. So it is very important to change the mindset of the people.