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World Anti-Sexual Abuse Day: No one is immune from sexual abuse, from children to the elderly, public awareness is needed

World Anti-Sexual Abuse Day: No one is immune from sexual abuse, from children to the elderly, public awareness is needed

Dr. Muhammad Mahtab Hossain Mazed

Today, Monday, March 4, is the World Anti-Sexual Violence Day 2024. However, no significant program is being taken anywhere in the country in a public-private manner around the day. It would have been possible to eradicate this type of crime if various types of awareness programs were taken with importance on the World Anti-Sexual Harassment Day. Sexual harassment is one of the obstacles in empowering women. Women are subjected to sexual harassment both at home and abroad. It is a social disorder.

From children to old people, no one is spared from this disease. Although women roam freely, they are subjected to sexual harassment in various places such as houses, roads, vehicles, footpaths or public places. A woman who is a victim of sexual harassment, on the contrary, hides herself in fear of society. The normal life of the victim and his family has been disrupted, their life has become a miserable situation. Protesting is counter-attacked, so many desperate parents stop their children from going to school and college and keep them at home for fear of miscreants. Many girls spend their childhood-adolescence under house arrest because of the scumbags. Similarly, many women are forced to leave their jobs due to sexual harassment in the workplace and many parents do not want girls to work. Women keep this kind of harassment secret due to social and family fear.

Deadly crimes like sexual harassment are increasing day by day due to lack of justice. About one third of the world's women are victims of sexual harassment on a regular basis. According to data, 623 women and 768 children and adolescents were victims of sexual violence in 2023. Among the incidents of violence against women, 231 rapes, 117 gang rapes, 16 murders after rape, 110 attempted rapes. 149 people were victims of sexual harassment. 10 women were victims of acid throwing. Apart from this, 72 disabled women were raped. On the other hand, 42 disabled women and children have been victims of various violence. 512 women committed suicide. 15 women abducted, 22 women missing. 14 disabled women were victims of violence.

768 children and adolescents have been victims of sexual abuse. 432 children and teenagers were raped, 64 children were gang-raped, 25 children were killed after being raped. Four children and a teenage girl committed suicide after being raped. 130 children and adolescents were victims of sexual harassment and 113 children and adolescents were victims of attempted rape. On the other hand, in 2023, 257 people were physically assaulted in cases of violence against children. A total of 285 children and adolescents were killed in violence against children, including 50 accidental deaths. 295 children committed suicide. 37 children have been abducted, 64 children are missing. 12 disabled children and teenagers have been victims of violence. A total of 28 cases of rape and attempted rape were compromised by local leaders during the year, where they illegally arbitrated decisions in violation of existing laws. In 2023, a total of 91 newborns were found abandoned in different parts of the country. Of these, 21 were alive and 70 newborns were recovered dead; Which has brought forward the inhuman and reprehensible reality of the society. Most of the harassers are middle-aged or older men (41 to 60 years). According to a survey by the Sub-Council of Training, Research and Libraries of Bangladesh Women's Council, students are the most victims of sexual harassment. This rate is more than 53 percent.

A survey conducted at the university level shows that 76 percent of female students are sexually harassed in one way or another during their university life. Out of this, 87 percent in government universities, 66 percent in private universities and 54 percent in medical colleges are victims of sexual harassment. Apart from this, 19 percent of women engaged in various professions are victims of sexual harassment. In addition, 7 percent of the total women in the world are victims of rape at any time of their lives. The country does not take as much initiative to establish the rule of law to prevent sexual harassment. Although there are many cases of sexual harassment in educational institutions, especially schools and colleges, it is not revealed. School-college governing bodies cover up. If someone complains, they will be harassed. There is no committee to prevent sexual harassment in any school-college in Bangladesh including DhakaStatistics show that at least 142 women were victims of sexual harassment and abuse last year. 122 men were tortured and harassed while protesting these incidents. 12 women committed suicide due to harassment during the year. Apart from this, four women and four men were killed while protesting sexual harassment and harassment. Even online, women are not safe; The incidence of discrimination, humiliation and sexual harassment against women is also increasing through this means.

507 women were victims of domestic violence last year. Among them, 292 people died due to torture and 142 people committed suicide. Note that in 2022, 479 women were victims of domestic violence. On the other hand, a total of 142 women were tortured for dowry in 2023. Of these, 64 women were murdered after physical abuse and six women committed suicide. The numbers would be a little higher, as no information was available on the age of the hundreds of rape victims. Then calculate for yourself how many female children, aged 6 to 13, are raped by men in Bangladesh every month.

This is the information taken from the news, which is printed in four or five major papers of the country.

In 2010, the Bangladesh High Court issued a directive to prevent sexual harassment. It has been said that institutions including educational institutions where there are women should have an anti-sexual harassment committee headed by a woman. There should be a preponderance of women in the committee. A box should be provided for sexual harassment complaints. After every three months the box will be opened and if any complaint is received then the committee will investigate and take action. Confidentiality must be maintained to ensure an impartial outcome of the investigation. Anyone can file a complaint with the committee. But the directives of the High Court are not being implemented. Although some organizations have such committees, most organizations do not.

> What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment and molestation of unwanted parts of the body, as well as attempted unauthorized sexual acts, are sexual harassment. In simple terms, sexual harassment is the act of forcing someone against their will or the intention to carry out sexual harassment.

> Who is affected?
Anyone, male or female, can be a victim of sexual harassment. But in most cases women, girls and boys are more affected. Sometimes the elderly can also be victims.

> How is it affected?
Girls and boys are vulnerable to sexual abuse. Due to their small size, they cannot easily restrain a sexual predator. Therefore, young children are heavily bullied by relatives and acquaintances around them. There are some members in our family, whom we never consider harmful to our children. But children are more abused by these relatives. Many times children say something against them but we ignore them due to inexperience.

And although boys are affected in this way, in our society, boys are mostly affected in various educational institutions. A large proportion of women, along with children, are victims of sexual abuse. Especially women who have no real freedom of their own, who are somehow subject to the will of others, are more affected. Also, a part of women are subjected to sexual harassment due to their vulnerability in the workplace.

Not only that, in the modern social system, high class women are also victims of sexual harassment. In the current era of globalization, girls, women and children are also victims of sexual abuse due to social media. In many cases, women with any weakness are also subjected to sexual harassment due to blackmail. Women are especially sexually harassed by social media.

> Who is affected by?
Our family is surrounded by some members who are of perverse character. They target young children waiting for an opportunity. Satisfied the desires of their perverse tastes. These relatives and acquaintances forcefully sexually abuse children by luring and intimidating them. There are some members of the family, with whom there is a joking relationship. These brother-in-laws or paternal relatives also take the opportunity to sexually abuse in many cases. Which we laugh and avoid. Also, there are many uncles, jathas, uncles, khalu, fufa etc. in the guise of giving affection. Those who use children to satisfy their sexual lust in the name of adoration.

Boys are mostly bullied by teachers and middle-aged people around. Many of us do not know that boys are also victims of sexual harassment. Vulnerable women are attacked by superiors at home and at work. Women and children are subjected to sexual harassment in public transport while traveling on the roads. Girls are bullied by neighborhood bullies in school and college. Women and children are also victims of virtual sexual harassment by some ugly people on social media. Also, rising models or stars who come to work in the media are also subjected to sexual harassment by their own professionals.

> Ways to escape from oppression:- In order to save children and women from sexual oppression, it is necessary to take various steps. Notable among them are-
Awareness:-
To save children from sexual abuse, the first thing that is important is awareness. Every family should teach children about sexual safety. So that they can inform the family if there is any injustice against them. Many do not realize they are being sexually assaulted due to lack of knowledge. So the first step of the family should be to make children aware about sex.

> Observing Child Behavior:- Children and women are victims of sexual abuse due to lack of real experience of sex by our parents. So parents should think about this matter extensively. Observe whether there is any change in the behavior of children in the family. Try to find out what kind of tastes the members around the family have. Listening with interest and taking action when children have complaints against anyone.

> Do not leave children alone:-
No child should be left alone with anyone or children should never be left alone at home. Check if children are spending alone time with anyone. To investigate the reasons for reluctance of children to go to school or educational institution. Also trying to find out whether children are victims of any kind of torture or bullying in educational institutions.

> Being self-reliant and self-confident:-
Women should strive to be independent and confident. Helpless women are often the victims of sexual assault. Especially vulnerable women are surrounded by sex-hungry people who take the opportunity to abuse them excessively. Also, many women are subjected to forced sexual abuse against their will due to their weakness in the family.

If women are confident, they can protest against any injustice. Those who sexually abuse, should know how to protest against them by keeping an eye on them. Children gain this confidence from their families. So families should help children to be confident and brave. So that if someone wants to do something wrong with them, they can protest and inform everyone.

> Friendly Behaviour:-
Parents should have nice, fluent and friendly relationship with the boys and girls studying in educational institutions. So that they can easily know who is doing what with him in school and college. Many boys, girls and girls do not report their abuse to their families because of the dysfunctional family relationships. As a result, these young children, teenagers and young women are subjected to torture and suffer from a kind of mental depression. Which later turned into mental illness and suicide
is
> Keeping away from virtual world:-
Teenagers should never be allowed to use social media. Keeping teenagers out of the virtual world until they are at least 18 years old can help prevent sexual harassment to a large extent. Boys who are sexually assaulted acquire sexual addiction from the free internet. Later they started sexually assaulting her. In most cases, it is seen that many take advantage of the weakness of girls and sexually harass them by blackmailing them in the virtual world.

> Creating awareness in educational institutions:-
In order to save children from sexual abuse, awareness about sexual abuse must be created in all educational institutions including schools and colleges. Along with this, everyone should be informed about these openly by breaking the social fence. So that children can talk about their problems themselves and protest if they are ever bullied
can do

> Not to degrade:-
In many cases, victims of sexual abuse are later stigmatized socially and familially. Which should never happen. Some brave children who are victims of sexual abuse are cut off from their families after speaking out. Also they are looked down upon socially. Which prevents others from being brave. So if any kind of sexual harassment happens with someone, we should not be negative. Let us stand by the side of sexually abused children and extend a hand of compassion to them. So that no one else in the society dares to do this kind of crime.

> What can be done to prevent sexual harassment:-
If you are harassed or sexually harassed on the roads or in vehicles, you should immediately raise your voice and protest so that the attention of others is attracted. If it happens in a secluded place, the woman has to ensure her own safety and use her wits to tact. The family should be aware of making the girl child physically and mentally strong to face any situation.·

Police should be contacted as soon as possible.

Finally, it is not clear what is meant by sexual harassment, everyone thinks that only rape is sexual harassment. Under the 2003 Act, touching any part of a woman for an improper purpose is sexual harassment. Even lewd comments, grabbing women's clothes, pushing them also fall under sexual harassment. In this crime, the oppressor should be identified and punished by family, social and political boycott and brought under the law. Instead of blaming the rape victim, we should be sensitive to her and stand beside her. Bangladesh is moving towards development. Half of the population of a country is women. Without ensuring the prevention of violence against women, gender equality and empowerment of women, the development of a country cannot be dreamed of. The situation is changing over time. The women's community is voicing in protest. People from different levels of society, including victims, must take their own management and collective initiative to stop sexual harassment in public and private. In addition to law enforcement, awareness programs should be undertaken to eliminate sexual harassment.

The writer is a, columnist & researcher Founder Chairman, ja Rogi Kallyan Society

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