In recent time eve-teasing (sexual harassment) has become major concern in Bangladesh. How far the law and the government have been successful in combating the issue of eve-teasing? Explain and illustrate.
Bangladesh, a developing country, though holding quite a small area is inundated with uncountable problems. Among these, eve-teasing, recently has become the burning issue for the country owing to its adverse effects on women, especially to the teenage girls. Eve teasing has remained a concern since many years. But the fact that it has taken a massive shape is of great concern. The practice of eve-teasing is a form of sexual assault that ranges in brutality from catcalls, sexually evocative remarks, brushing in public places, to outright groping and very recently teasing by mobile phone and mobile tracking. It is an obvious fact that no conscious citizen of our country is unaware about this ugly situation created by the youth who follow delinquency. Suicide of a probable school or college girl as an outcome of eve-teasing is an obvious news whenever we scroll down the daily newspapers.
Eve-teasing has no bounds. Every other person on the streets intend to assault women ranging from rich to poor, being literate to being uneducated. It is very sad that, a healthy number of educated boys from reputed families are growing lust towards this practice. According to the report from ‘Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association’ (BNWLA) the probable eve-teasers on the streets of Bangladesh are teenage boys, traffic police, rickshaw pullers, bus drivers, supervisors or colleagues of the working women. Statistics suggests , 32% of the eve teasers are students, 33% are middle-aged men while 35% are anti-socials.
A common scenario of defining how women are sexually harassed would be the fact that these teasers wait in schools mostly, in colleges or they just sit outside the houses and as soon as they cite the girls walk past them they start passing vulgar comments, filthy jokes, sly whistles, uncouth laughter, and sometimes reaching the extreme of indecent exposure. The society blames the women or girls stating that they aggravate the teasers by failing to wear modest clothes. On the contrary, those wearing decent dress are not found to be teased as usual and sometimes to an even greater extent.
2. FORMS OF EVE TEASING
Eve teasers frequently undergo passing vulgar comments, unnecessary touching, pushing & shoving, in the streets and mostly in public transports. Other women are frequently harassed at workplaces by male supervisors, colleagues or bosses.
There are a lot of ways women are harassed. Some of the typical examples would be a vulgar stare, a wink, an opportune clap, a sly whistle, a needless collision, an apparent casual touch, a persistent stare, passing uncouth comments, the purring of an evocative song, despicable gestures, bikes soaring close with hands stretched intending to take a feel of the girl’s body, passing by in slow moving cars with loud music with an number of boys inside eyeing the girls in order to measure her up. The following are some vivid scenarios.
· With school going girls: Most teenage boys wait outside school waiting to make indecent remarks on the girl. Following that, some follow girls from school to home intending to grab her attention. Eve-teasing by passing dreadful comments and passing offensive letters etc. Sometimes, they pass filthy comments trough vulgar letters or sometimes force girls to go into a relationship with them. Not being to tolerate such mental trauma, a potential life comes to an end when a girl finally decides to take her life.
· Through mobiles: This is one of the most popular forms of eve-teasing. A stalker starts with sending a SMS in patterned and abstract language and the girls falls for it. This girl then very naturally develops a feeling on which that boy capitalizes. Then the commencement of a relationship. They spend a few intimate moments together which are captured by hidden video cameras and are later circulated using the internet.
· Directly by internet: The best way in this modern world for girls and guys to come closer to each other is by chatting through the internet. And thus most girls are victimized by boys mostly because of sensuality’s sake.
Due to these terrible practices, productivity and mobility of women is treacherously hindered. In the long run, these women, their families and the society suffer.
3. CAUSES BEHIND EVE TEASING
There are many theories of why eve-teasing is so common. One of the main reasons suggested by social scientists and psychologists is that eve teasing is a result of the frustration that majority of the youth in Bangladesh suffer. These people are often dissatisfied by indifferent parents and the inappropriate behaviour of teachers. Thus they crave for a means to display their depression ultimately resulting in aggression. The case is also for those who fail to inherit proper values from their family.
On the other hand there are others who feel that it is the direct outcome of a sexually repressive society, in which women by tradition have no voice whatsoever and do not possess equal rights. Moreover there is a lot more to blame when considering why the adolescents of our country have been provoked to this extent. The first reason is the influence of western media, for those who hold a mixed trace on sensitivity towards women’s issues.
Some of the most common reasons pointed out in brief are:
· The males having a strong attraction towards the opposite sex.
· Inadequate scope for educating the females of our society.
· The sense of thoughts towards women.
· Be deficient in social and family bondage, and also family detachment.
· Bad associations
· Having a dominating mentality and lack of respect towards the physically weaker sex
· Abuse of power supported by political involvement.
· Ignoring the law.
4. BANGLADESH: RECENT SCENARIO OF EVE TEASING
Due to the brutal rise of eve-teasing in our country, parents and guardians are passing days in great apprehension for the safety of their children. The normal lives of these girls are being hampered due its rapid increase. One of the most adverse consequences of eve-teasing would be the rise in drop-out rate of girls from school and thus to protect children from not losing their respect and also keep them safe, parents keep their daughters at home which feels like eternity or simply marry them off at a very early age. Those who are the victims are also sometimes forced into marriage, before they are mentally or physically matured.
For the development of the economy of our nation, women who compose of almost half of our population need to participate in the employment sector. But unfortunate for them eve teasers are hindering their participation.
The alarming rate of eve-teasing can be easily deduced the long tally records and also from the increasing count of incidents in the recent days. Besides suicide, statistics from only the reported cases reveal that from January-July 2010, approximately 13,000 women were the victims of eve teasing in our country. On the contrary most cases remain unreported out of fear of losing the reputation in the society. It is evident that almost every other girl in our society has come across eve-teasers at least once in their lives. Even those women who are in strict ‘pardah’ are not spared.
Those who have tried to disclose the criminals involved in sexual harassment have been directly murdered. Example being women of 50 was run down by a motorbike when she tried protesting against the issue that her daughter was being assaulted a week before. Again, similarly a teacher was murdered when she demanded a cure for such dirty activities. All patterns of murder are the same for those who try raising a voice. May it be, ‘Simi’ from ‘Charukala’ or ‘Fahima’ belonging ‘Mirpur’, and other female students, workers and slum dwellers were brutally tortured and the society either blamed the women or simply brushed off the air.
5. LEGAL FRAMEWORK
For protective measure the Government of Bangladesh has pursued a number of legal measures, both direct and indirect to minimize the violence against women and uphold their rights. A few of the legal acts are in chronological order:
· Penal Code, Section 375, 1860
· The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898
· The Child Marriage Control Act, 1929
· The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939
· The Muslim Marriages and Divorces Registration Act, 1974
· The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance (DMPO) of 1976
· The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980
· The Family Court Ordinance, 1985
· The Legal Aid Provision Act, 2000
· The Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act, 2000
· The Acid Crime Prevention Act, 2002
· The Acid Control Act, 2002 
Interestingly, eve teasing has nothing to do with any physical harassment and thus the law of our country rejects it to be a violent act. Thus the tragedy lies that the victims of eve teasing are never being taken seriously by the police or the legal authority. Yet facts, report and evidence states that the victims of eve-teasing are brutally affected mentally some of which leads to suicide and thus is as violent as any physical assault could be.
As stated above in the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act, 2000, a remarkable provision was mentioned in article 10 that teasing women through vulgar gestures and comments is offensive and the punishment for such act would be simple imprisonment for seven years or two years of meticulous imprisonment. But then again in 2003, the act was amended stating that no one would be charged of sexual abuse until and unless it is physical. Therefore, those who usually disturb women in the streets, malls or buses would no longer fall under this law. In order to defend this act, the government said that the provision in the form of the above act was to abuse to harass rivals and those usual cases were that the claimants could not prove any cases of eve teasing.
Since the amendment, the women rights activities had fired up and claimed that just when situations had worsened for women for women regarding harassment, the act was revised. The only hope that women had was to rely on to reinforce their rights under section 509 of the Penal code which supports women stating that anyone intruding a women’s privacy, having it in mind to insult a woman, or uttering any uncalled for word intending it to be heard, any sly sound or gesture intending it to be seen, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a year or with fine or both. 
Supporting the Penal Code is the Metropolitan Police Ordinances, 1976 states that anyone citing any uncouth activities such as insulting a woman, making unwanted contact, obstruction, use of foul language or gesture on the street whether up close or from a distant place shall report immediately to the police and then action would be taken against criminal which includes imprisonment extending to one year or with fine of Taka 2000 and sometimes both. The Metropolitan Police Ordinance was the first act in Bangladesh other than the Penal Code that concentrated teasing as an offence against women. But the term ‘eve teasing’ is yet not used directly. There are five other metropolitan police acts which include provisions in order to castigate the teasers. However, their jurisdictions are limited to their own making the offense towards women an urban issue. Unfortunately there are still no special laws to penalize the teasers under a jurisdiction that would be implemented nationwide. 
As discussed earlier in this section, when in 2000 the government of Bangladesh ratified a tougher law to shield the susceptible women from distinctive offences, the Prevention of Women and Children Act-2000 affected the teasers heavily. Quoting section 10(1), sexual torture is defines by law as, “if a man touches the sexual organ or any other organ of a woman or of a child by any of his organs or by any other objects with a view to fulfilling his illegal sexual desire, such act of the man will be termed as sexual torture”.] What basically is defined in this section is to hint an attempt of murder through physical contact. The teaser is penalized with painstaking detention of minimum 3 years to maximum 10 years following an indefinite heavy fine.
Now, section 10(2), states sexual harassment to be, “if a man, with a view to fulfilling his illegal sexual desires outrage a woman’s modesty or makes erotic gesture, such act of the man will amount to sexual harassment”.  In this case the person is punishes with an imprisonment of two to seven years, adding to that an ambiguous bulk of fine. This act specifically states that sexual harassment does not need to be necessarily through physical contract with the victim. Unfortunate for women, the section 10(2) was dismissed when the law was apparently amended in 2003.
To cover that, a new term has been added under section 9(ka) which is presently valid says that if a woman is sexually harassed or dishonoured in any case by a person, and if consequently she is forced to commit suicide, the criminal would be awarded a sentence of a minimum 5 years to maximum 10 But in that section very witty fully the cure of sexual harassment of non-contract nature was clearly avoided. Plus, very ridiculously, the criminal will not be punished till the victim is dead.  So, the conclusion of the amendment of the ‘Prevention of Women and Children Act-2000’ in 2003 was clearly evident that there were no direct legal solutions for sexual harassment against women.
Newspapers are a great support to women kind and through the power of pen and paper bring out heartbreaking and awakening reports on sexual harassment frequently. One of the true stories is as follows:
November 1, 2010, Rupali Rani from Bogra, a student of class IX, was usually harassed on her way to school and back home for a few months by a man named Sushil Shil and was eventually was kidnapped by him and kept in a room of his residence at Shirajganj. She was forced by Shushil to act as his wife as he had followed the Hindu custom of putting vermillion oh her head, but that too forcefully. Finally Rupali had no other choice but hanging herself from the ceiling. 
Looking at all the alarming increase in these incidents, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA) submitted a Written Petition (No. 5916, 2008) to the High Court Division. The Court issued the judgment on the 14th of May 2009 giving the government an eleven-point command in order to fill up the governmental vacuity in the nature of law only after examining the problem.  After that the government has begun gratifying the orders from the court. Furthermore, according to the directive 9, many institutions have been given the right to form Complaint Committees in order to protect women and also take action against those who offend the females. But, in order to frame a direct law to fight the teasers had not been established yet. This is why the ‘Street Romeos’, are still roaming free without any fear of getting punished because everyone is aware of the fact that a person cannot be sentenced unless he makes physical contact.
6. ADDITONAL MEASURES TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT
On June 13, 2010 the Education ministry of Bangladesh announced June 13 as ‘Eve Teasing Protection Day’.This day was specially designated looking at the large number of women getting tired of being harassed and teased on a regular basis and then choosing to commit suicide. Very recently, the government has taken a decision; well it was high time they took this decision of placing a more strict law to halt eve-teasing.
To combat this problem the government of Bangladesh had authorized ‘Mobile courts’ in order to take legal action against those who are convicted of stalking and harassing a woman. That person would be suffering one year in jail or pay a fine of about Tk. 5000 or both. The Home Secretary of Bangladesh Mr. Abdus Sobhan Sikder advised BBC, “For the first time a social crime has been brought under the jurisdiction of mobile courts. The idea behind the move is for a speedy trial in cases of sexual harassment and stalking.”
Mr. Sikder also said that when a case id filed by any women demanding for justice against the assault she has experienced it takes a long time for the case to be heard in normal criminal court, probably weeks. Plus sadly the chances that the case will be in the woman’s favour in quite low. But now, due to the initiation of the mobile court the government can reassure that the cases would be disposed off further guaranteeing appropriate punishments.
It is very sad that in our country where we have majority of the ministers as females especially the prime minister and also the opposition leader, we dwell in an environment totally unsafe for women. Various law amendments have been done, a lot of action have been taken by the government, but all of these are somewhat vague and not strong enough to stop these treacherous people who are a disgrace to our society. All the legal action will only be successful when we as a nation will change our attitudes. If we want to eradicate this practice we need to change the attitudes of men and engrave a self generated respect for women coming from their heart.
2941 words excluding the question and footnotes
1. Karim. S., (2009) “ActionAid International Bangladesh – National study on VAGS”
2. Shadeka Jahan, S., (n.d), “Eve teasing: A punishable offence ”
3. “United Nations Statistics Division statistics” retrieved from www.bloggymate.com
4. Barrett, G. (2006), “Eve-Teasing The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English”, p-109, published by McGraw-Hill Professional, ISBN 0071458042.
5. “Laws and Legislative Measures Affecting Women” by National Commission for Women (NCW) National Commission for Women (NCW).
6. Advocate Jahan. S., (2005), “Eve teasing a punishable offence”
7. ‘The Daily Star’ (2010), June 11, p-1. Retrieved from http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=5952
8. Ethirajan. A., (2010), 10 November “Bangladesh empowers mobile courts to stop Eve teasing” BBC News, Dhaka
9. ‘Prothom Alo’ (2010), November 2, p-1, col-5
10. See, Raza. R., (June 4, 2010), “Defining and Penalizing the Offence of Eve Teasing”
11. See, “Eve-teasing in Bangladesh 3” (2009), resource, published by lawyersnjurists
12. ‘The Prevention of Women and Children Act-2000’, retrieved from www.lawyersnjurists.com
13. See ‘Amar Desh’ (2010), November 04, p-9, col-3
14. ‘The Financial Express Bangladesh’, (2010), October 28, “Too many cases of eve teasing”
15. “Eve-teasing-a-social-curse”, (2010), retrieved from www.blogymate.com