What is Sexual Harassment? In Bangladesh how deep this problem is causing problem? Is there any law according to Bangladeshi justification? If there is any is it properly imposed or not? – Explain & Illustrate.

What is Sexual Harassment? In Bangladesh how deep this problem is causing problem? Is there any law according to Bangladeshi justification? If there is any is it properly imposed or not? – Explain & Illustrate.


The term sexual harassment was used in 1973 by Dr Mary Rowe in a report to the then President and Chancellor of MIT about various forms of gender issues. (See Saturn’s Rings, 1974). Rowe has stated that she believes she was not the first to use the term, since sexual harassment was being discussed in women’s groups in Massachusetts in the early 1970s, but that MIT may have been the first or one of the first large organizations to discuss the topic (in the MIT Academic Council), and to develop relevant policies and procedures. MIT at the time also recognized the injuries caused by racial harassment and the harassment of women of color which may be both racial and sexual. The President of MIT also stated that harassment (and favoritism) is antithetical to the mission of a university as well as intolerable for individuals.

In the book In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (1999), journalist Susan Brown miller[1] quotes the Cornell activists who in 1975 thought they had coined the term sexual harassment: “Eight of us were sitting in an office … brainstorming about what we were going to write on posters for our speak-out. We were referring to it as ‘sexual intimidation,’ ‘sexual coercion,’ ‘sexual exploitation on the job.’ None of those names seemed quite right. We wanted something that embraced a whole range of subtle and un-subtle persistent behaviors.

Definition of Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment may be illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to actual sexual abuse or sexual assault. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal employment discrimination in many countries, and is a form of abuse (sexual and psychological) and bullying. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending employees from sexual harassment charges, has become key goals of legal decision-making. In contrast, many scholars complain that sexual harassment in education remains a “forgotten secret,” with educators and administrators refusing to admit the problem exist in their schools, or [2]accept their legal and ethical responsibilities to deal with it. (Dziech, 1990).

Sexual harassment in terms of Bangladesh:

Sexual harassment is a common phenomenon in recent world. And Bangladesh is not also excluded from this. It is a social disaster for our country; hence it is a social crime like all other crimes in Bangladesh. There are certain types of sexual harassment in Bangladesh, which are given below:

Physical conduct [3]

1.        Physical violence

2.        Physical contact, e.g. touching, pinching

3.        The use of job-related threats or rewards to solicit sexual favors

Verbal conduct

1.        Comments on a worker’s appearance, age, private life, etc.

2.        Sexual comments, stories and jokes

3.        Sexual advances

4.        Repeated social invitations

5.        Insults based on the sex of the worker

6.        Condescending or paternalistic remarks

Non-verbal conduct

1.        Display of sexually explicit or suggestive material

2.        Sexually-suggestive gestures

3.       whistling

The Problem Of sexual harassment in Bangladesh:

The problem of sexual harassment in Bangladesh is devastating. Women in our country are being harassed by people in so many ways. The most significant aspects where the women are being harassed like public places, shopping centers, bus, in streets, in organizations, in institutions etc. We can certainly say that, women are being harassed in most of the segments in Bangladesh. There is hardly can find any place where harassment is not taking place. The most terrifying sexual harassment which is really unavoidable by women is “EVE Teasing”.

Eve Teasing:  Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India and sometimes Pakistan and Bangladesh for public sexual harassment, street harassment or molestation of women by men, with Eve being a reference to the biblical Eve.  Eve-teasing has been a notoriously difficult crime to prove, as perpetrators often devise ingenious ways to attack women, even though many feminist writers term it as “little rapes”, and usually occur in public places, streets, and public transport.[4] Eve teasing’ is become an often brutal form of sexual harassment that can result in permanent physical and psychological damage and profoundly alter the course of a girl’s life. The harassment manifests itself in different ways, ranging from verbal abuse and sexual innuendo to abduction, acid-throwing and rape.

In response, some parents choose to keep their daughters at home rather than send them to school, or they marry girls off at an early age in an attempt to protect their honor and safety.

Rising incidents of sexual harassment and increasing public anger in protest has prompted the Bangladesh government, headed by a woman, Sheikh Hasina, to take action. In the latest incident Friday Aug 28, villagers set fire to houses of some alleged stalkers in Talupara village in Sirajganj district, about 110 km northwest of Dhaka.

In another incident, at least 10 members of a family were Wednesday beaten for protesting against stalking, and one of them died, The Daily Star reported.

[5]The resolve to raise public awareness comes from the presence of several women in public life.

“In a country where the prime minister (Sheikh Hasina), foreign minister (Dipu Moni), home minister (Sajeda Khatun), agriculture minister (Motia Chowdhury) and the leader of the opposition (Begum Khaleda Zia) are female, women and girls cannot walk on the streets, use public transport, or go to school, shops, parks or other public places without often being ogled, taunted, harassed, humiliated, sexually molested, groped and assaulted – and in some cases, attacked with acid, abducted and raped,” The Daily Star lamented in a commentary Saturday.

According to the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, almost 90 percent of girls aged 10-18 years are victims of sexual harassment.

The perpetrators range from college students and unemployed youth to street vendors, rickshaw pullers, bus drivers, fellow passengers, colleagues and supervisors.

“Sexual terrorism thrives on patriarchal attitudes, prejudices, cultural norms, double standards and discriminatory laws that devalue women and deny them their rights. Eradicating it will require transformative social change,” the newspaper said.

Bangladeshi Law against Sexual Harassment:

[6]Women’s participation in economic sector is crucial for their economic Empowerment and their sustainability. However, problems such as sexual harassment in the workplace discourage women to continue working. Sexual harassment in the workplace though an age-old problem has emerged as a serious concern in Bangladesh. It is increasingly being recognized as a violation of human rights and human dignity, which undermines equality of opportunity and treatment between men and women. As women’s participation is growing in employment sector, the problem of sexual harassment is a necessary problem to address to ensure safe and healthy working environment. In Bangladesh, large scale of women’s entry into paid labor force has increased incidences of sexual harassment.

[7]Various initiatives have slowly begun to address sexual harassment in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh sexual harassment was made punishable by Section 10 of the Nari O Shish Narjaton Domon Ain (2000) states that any man who, in order to satisfy his lust in an improper manner, outrages the modesty of a woman, or makes obscene gestures, will have engaged in sexual harassment and for this, the above mentioned male will be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of not more than seven years and not less than two years and beyond this will be subjected to monetary fines as well.

Bangladesh high courts contribution against sexual harassment:

[8]The High Court in April, 2010 directed the Ministry of Education to take immediate steps to implement the Guidelines on Sexual Harassment declared earlier in BNWLA v Bangladesh, and to ensure that no woman working in any educational institution, public or private is forced to wear a veil or cover her head, and may exercise her personal choice whether or not to do so. 1 The Court also observed that Section 27A of the Government Servants Discipline and Conduct Rules 1979, must be read alongside these Guidelines, to ensure that public officials are held to account for any acts of sexual harassment.

The Court observed “It is the personal choice of a woman to wear a veil. If any person tries to compel a woman to wear a veil against her consent or will that amounts to a violation of her fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution”.

[9]Existing Rules on Sexual Harassment and Discipline of Government Officers

  • The High Court’s Guidelines on Prevention of Sexual Harassment earlier laid down on 14.5.2009 in Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association v Government of Bangladesh (2009) 14 Bangladesh Law Chronicles directed the Government to enact legislation to address the issue immediately pending which the Guidelines would have the force of law.
  • Guidelines, Rule 4(i)© Sexually colored verbal representation; Rule 4(1)(f) Sexually colored remark or gesture;
  • Government Servants Discipline and Conduct Rules 1979, Rule 27A. Conduct towards female colleagues- No Government servant shall use any language or behave with his female colleagues in any manner which is improper and goes against the official decorum and dignity of female colleagues.


Sexual harassment is a social crime. It’s a curse for our society. And this curse can be removed through public concern. If anyone can raise voice against this social crime then everyone will take an affirmative action against it by seeing him/her. So we should take proper steps in every sectors of Bangladesh both publicly and privately to remove this social crime.


1.      American Association of University Women. Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School. AAUW, 2002.

2.      Koss, Mary P. “Changed Lives: The Psychological Impact of Sexual Harassment.” in Paludi, Michele A. ed. Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment On Campus. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1987.

3.      Directions in Sexual Harassment Law. R. B. Siegel, co-editor. MacKinnon, Catherine. New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ. Press, 2004.

4.      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment

5.      http://www.sacw.net/article1394.html

6.      http://www.dotcr.ost.dot.gov/Documents/complaint/Preventing_Sexual_Harassment.htm

7.      Bangladeshi Women Workers and Labour Market Decisions: The Power to Choose. Dhaka: UPL, 2001.

8.      Dina M. Siddiqi “New Trends in Violence: Sexual Harassment and Obstacles to Mobility in Bangladesh.” Position paper prepared for NGO Coalition on Beijing Plus Five, Bangladesh (NCBP), 2003.

9.      International Labour Organization, “Combating Sexual Harassment at Work.” Conditions of Work Digest, Vol.11, No.1 Geneva 19

10.  (Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=83627)—  Hana Shams Ahmed
Staff Writer, The Star magazine ,The Daily Star

11.  Bangladesh ‘Eve teasing’ craze takes a terrible toll By Salim Mia BBC News, Dhaka

12.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Bangladesh-finally-bans-sexual-harassment-/articleshow/4529924.cms

13.  Bangladesh: High Court Directs Government to Immediately Implement Sexual Harassment Guidelines in all Educational Institutions, and ensure that Women Not Forced to Veil or Cover their Heads by sacw.net, Thursday 8 April 2010.

14.  90% of Bangladeshi girls ages 10-18 experience sexual harassment article Via The Hindustan Times.

15.   High Court announced new guidelines to prevent Sexual harassment by Taslima Akter on May.26, 2009, under Women Last 14th May, High Court declared a new guideline to prevent sexual harassment. From the newspaper The Bangladesh Today.


Sapana Pradhan-Malla Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), Nepal

17.  Chapt. 10: Sexual Harassment In India: A Case Study of Eve-Teasing in Historical Perspective. Rethinking Sexual Harassment, by Clare Brant, Yun Lee Too. Published by Pluto Press, 1994. ISBN 0745308384. Page 200.

18. Sexual Harassment: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives, by Alison M. Thomas, Celia Kitzinger. Published by Open University Press, 1997. ISBN 0335195806

19.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_teasing.

20. Eve teasing: A punishable offence Shadeka Jahan. The author is Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court.

21.  ‘Frame policy to stop sexual harassment’ Staff Correspondent. The Bangladesh today.

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  • ·1.Rowe, Mary, “Saturn’s Rings,” a study of the minutiae of sexism which maintain discrimination and inhibit affirmative action results in corporations and non-profit institutions; published in Graduate and Professional Education of Women, American Association of University Women, 1974, pp. 1–9. “Saturn’s Rings II” is a 1975 updating of the original, with racist and sexist incidents from 1974 and 1975. An excerpt appears in the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin, Volume 50, No. 1 (Sept./Oct. 1975), pp. 14–18. A more complete version appears in Bourne, Patricia and Velma Parness, eds., Proceedings of the NSF Conference on Women’s Leadership and Authority, University of California, Santa Cruz, California, 1977, also reprinted in Comment, Vol. 10, No 3 (March 1978), p. 3. Also revised and republished as “The Minutiae of Discrimination: The Need for Support,” in Forisha, Barbara and Barbara Goldman, Outsiders on the Inside, Women in Organizations, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1981, Ch. 11, pp. 155–171.

2. Rowe,Mary, “Dealing with Harassment: A Systems Approach,” in Sexual Harassment: Perspectives, Frontiers, and Response Strategies, Women & Work, Vol. 5, Margaret Stockdale, editor, Sage Publications, 1996, pp. 241–


§         Dziech, Billie Wright, Weiner, Linda. The Lecherous Professor: Sexual Harassment on Campus. Chicago Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

§         Ivory Power: Sexual Harassment On Campus. Paludi, Michele A. ed. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press, 1987.


Source: M. Rubenstein: “Dealing with sexual harassment at work: The experience of industrialized countries”, in Conditions of Work Digest: Combating sexual harassment at work, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1992, p. 11.

[4] Sexual Harassment: Contemporary Feminist Perspectives, by Alison M. Thomas, Celia Kitzinger. Published by Open University Press, 1997. ISBN 0335195806.

5.Members of UNICEF-supported youth clubs rally in Narshingdi district, Bangladesh, to raise awareness about public sexual harassment known as ‘Eve teasing’.

[5] The Daily star “”HC seeks govt report on sexual harassment

Saturday, October 16, 2010.

[6] Role of NGO in Effective Implementation of PFA and CEDAW in Bangladesh, Nari 2003, NGO

Coalition on Beijing Plus Five Bangladesh (NCBP).

[7] Action against Sexual Harassment at Work in Asia and the Pacific. Nelien Haspels, Zaitun Mohamed

Kasim, Constance Thomas and Deirdre McCann, ILO, Bangkok Area Office and East Asia

Multidisciplinary Advisory Team, page 54

[8] Bangladesh: High Court Directs Government to Immediately Implement Sexual Harassment Guidelines in all Educational Institutions, and ensure that Women Not Forced to Veil or Cover their Heads by sacw.net, Thursday 8 April 2010

[9] Advocate Salahuddin Dolon v Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 4495 of 2009