As part of the '16 days of activism' and International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women (VAW), the Dhaka office of ARTICLE 19, a British human rights organization, hosted an online event with experts and activists on the issue of gender-based violence and systemic VAW issues in Bangladesh. The event covered important themes such as freedom of expression regarding demanding equal rights for all genders beyond just men and women; reporting assaults and violence; and the right to know and access to information for women and third gender.
The themes explored the obligations of the individual, family, society, and the state, as the responsibilities lie in all of us to ensure gender equity in our daily lives up to the policymaking level.
The panel included: Nina Goswami, Senior Deputy Director of Program, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK); Ho Chi Minh Islam, Trans-feminist, rights activist, and nurse; Abdullah Al Noman, Activist and Advocate of the Supreme Court; Snigdha Rezwana, faculty at the Department of Anthropology at Jahangirnagr University; and Selina Ahmed, Program Head of Gender Justice and Diversity Program at BRAC.
The discussions provided an understanding of the gaps in legislation that fail to address gender justice and the challenges women, trans-gender, and non-binary people face in the country. Additionally, how identity and societal perception play into exacerbating the violence and hampering in reporting of gender-based crimes and discrimination. Particular emphasis was given to the State's obligation, as a broader gender-friendly environment can only be realized through a top-down approach to ensure justice and equal rights by the government.
Ho Chi Minh Islam, a strong proponent for trans rights, criticized the contemporary feminist movement in the country saying, “so far, this movement is not inclusive. The rights of transgender women, discrimination, and violence against them have always been neglected by the leaders of the feminist movement.”
“The definition of femininity here still depends on physicality. This change of mindset and attitude is very urgent now,'' she urged. She emphasized the need to address the root causes of gender-based violence, saying, ''vulnerable and marginalized people, regardless of gender, are the first and most frequent victims of violence. The seeds of this violence are hidden within the existing discriminatory power structures in the society.”
This was further reiterated by Snigdha Rezwana , who said that the country lacks gender-sensitivity perceptions, especially in the case of reporting violence, among law enforcement officers and media, as reports of rape and sexual assaults are spoken in the public arena in a manner that results in victim-blaming.
Access to justice was also mentioned by Nina Goswami, “Law enforcement officers are not sympathetic to the women who are victims of violence. For these reasons, women have very little access to justice. The victims are blamed by their own families and society. Trials take a long time to name a verdict due to gaps in the judicial system. These long-standing cases are not good as it violates the human rights of the victims, by delaying justice.”
Faruq Faisel, South Asia Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 called on the authorities to make sure gender equality is ensured in all aspects of our society and that better steps are taken to ensure security for all genders and the protection of women, transgender, and non-binary people.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would be run following the Medina Charter. There can be no statues in the country if it is governed based on the document.
Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh chief Junaid Babunagari said this on Friday while speaking at a program in Chattogram's Hathazari.
"All statues will be toppled no matter who they represent. We will tear them down," Babunagari said.
"Many people are being arrested and tortured in Bangladesh for speaking the truth and spreading the message of Islam. But we will not stop telling the truth."
However, the Hefazat-e-Islam chief also said, "Honorable prime minister, we respect you and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. We are not your enemies."
State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak on Friday said the government’s administrative work did not stop for a single day amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Coronavirus cases was first detected in Bangladesh on March 8. But the government’s administrative works remained uninterrupted in the last eight months. More than 1 million e-files have been cleared during the period,” he said this at a progrmme titled ‘Despite Maintaining Social Distancing, I Am Still Connected’, marking Digital Bangladesh Day 2020 that falls on December 12.
Palak said all the administrative works ranging from that of the prime minister’s office to the union parishad were not stopped for a single day. “It has been possible due to advancement in information technology.
He said the Awami League rolled out 'Digital Bangladesh Vision' on December 12,2008 and after coming to power, it has achieved its vision.
“The volume of online sale went up 30-50% during the pandemic. More than 50,000 young people are working in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. Around 10 lakh young people are in online freelancing. Mobile phone sets and laptops are being assembled in Bangladesh now,” Palak added.
Director general ICT Division ABM Arshad Hossain said Digital Bangladesh Day will be celebrated this year for the fourth time both online and offline due to the pandemic.
“Our aim is to construct sustainable ICT infrastructure in the country. The Covid-19 has created a chance to do it,” he said.
According to him, an international seminar will be organised on the day celebrating the 12-year journey under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. PM’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy will present the keynote at the programme after inauguration the main event by President Abdul Hamid.
There will also be an online quiz contest. Registration for the online quiz competition started on November 26 that will continue until December 7.
The participants will have to register through quiz.degitalbangladesh.gov.bd. The quiz competition will be held on 8 December. The winners will get laptops and mobile phones.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam will go live on Facebook on December 1 to have a straight talk with the city dwellers.
Using the hashtag #janatar_mukhomukhi_nagarshebak, people can directly talk to the mayor at the live program, which will start at 6:30pm.
Atiqul will discuss challenges facing the city, their solutions, planning, and management of different issues at the program.
"To ensure transparency, accountability, and people's participation in urban planning and management, I will have a conversation with the people," the mayor said.
Actor Ferdous will moderate the one-hour live program, which has been divided into three parts.
First, the mayor will inform the people about his plans for DNCC. Next, he will reply to comments and queries.
And the last session will be open for journalists to ask questions.
Four people were killed in road accidents in Cumilla and Magura on Friday.
Two youths were killed in Cumilla as a covered van hit a motorcycle in Kalakochua of Burichang upazila in the afternoon.
The deceased Md Nazmul Haque, 28, and Shariful Islam Sohag, 27, were volunteers of social organization Help for Human.
Officer-in-Charge of Moynamoti Highway Police Safayet Hossain said the duo were going to Chandina while a covered van hit their motorcycle, injuring them severely.
In Magura, another two youths – Baharul Islam, 26, and Sohag Bishwas, 30 – were killed in another road accident at Barakhari of Sadar upazila.
Officer-in-Charge of Magura Police Station Joynal Abedin said three people were on a motorcycle when a truck collided head-on with it and an auto-rickshaw.
"The accident killed Baharul on the spot and Sohag died later at the Sadar Hospital. Another motorcyclist is undergoing treatment."
Sub-Inspector of Magura Highway Police Amiruzzaman said they seized the truck but its driver fled.
Meanwhile, the country witnessed 388 road accidents in August that left 459 people dead and 618 injured, according to passengers' welfare body Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity.
The number of road accidents in the country rose 56% and fatalities 57% in June compared to May, it said.
During this time, 368 people were killed and 518 others injured in 358 road, railway, and waterway accidents.
In 2019, 8,543 people were killed and 14,318 injured in 6,210 road, railway, and waterway accidents.
Of them, 5,516 road accidents left 7,855 people dead and 13,330 injured.
Deaths in road crash rose 8.07% in 2019 compared to 2018.
Reckless driving, risky overtaking, dilapidated roads, unfit vehicles, unskilled drivers, using mobile phones or headphones while driving, and lack of awareness among road users were cited as main reasons behind road crashes.