Case Study from Garments Sector:

19 Jul

Golapi is 18 years old. She is unmarried and has been working in a garment factory for three years. She became the victim of sexual harassment by the manager and one of the supervisors of the factory. The supervisor would touch her shoulder and back while passing by her station. At times, he would bend over her and put his hand on her shoulder and try to reach her bosom. Golapi had no where to go as the manager himself was also the tormentor who would make comments about her figure and appearance. He often commented in her presence that he would like to have her. Subsequently, Golapi was given night shift duty. As usual just like the previous five days she was on night shift duty when she was called by the supervisor into a room where the manager was also present. Both the supervisor and the manager tried to rape her. While the supervisor grabbed her from behind and gagged her, the manager tried to tear her clothes off. At one stage she started screaming and cried for help. When she tried to break free and screamed the manager attempted to choke her with the help of a shirt. She started bleeding in the mouth because of choking. She was taken to the hospital in almost unconscious condition. Salaries of both manager and supervisor of that particular month had been withheld by the owner as a punishment indeed.     

Sharing your personal experiences with privacy

18 Jul

In today’s world people are concerned about sexual assault. We are here to share your experiences with others to stop sexual harassment. Please share whatever you faced:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-hDXAOt_DNLRq6VHvoxPRmqCIOpNetyeuG4gIn5FYvo/viewform

17 Jul

Campaign objective

17 Jul

  • To create awareness about sexual harassment;
  • To create awareness about the consequences of sexual offenses;
  • To create awareness that sexual harassment is punishable offense
  • To encourage people in raising their voice against this crime.

80 sexual assaults in one day – the other story of Tahrir Square

15 Jul

Egypt’s women increasingly at risk of rape and sexual assault as rights groups warn of a step up in attacks

On Wednesday night, when Egypt‘s army chief announced the forced departure of Mohamed Morsi, the streets around Tahrir Square turned into an all-night carnival. But not everyone there was allowed to celebrate. Among the masses dancing, singing and honking horns, more than 80 women were subjected to mob sexual assaults, harassment or rape. In Tahrir Square since Sunday, when protests against Morsi first began, there have been at least 169 counts of sexual mob crime.

“Egypt is full of sexual harassment and people have become desensitised to it – but this is a step up,” said Soraya Bahgat, a women’s rights advocate and co-founder of Tahrir Bodyguard, a group that rescues women from assault. “We’re talking about mob sexual assaults, from stripping women naked and dragging them on the floor – to rape.”

Since Sunday, campaigners say at least one woman has been raped with a sharp object.

Such crimes have been endemic at Tahrir protests since at least the 2011 revolution, but they have never been documented in such high numbers.

“It’s been underreported because a lot of people are unwilling to come forward,” said Bahgat, “and because no one wanted to disturb the sanctity of Tahrir.”

In a typical attack, lines of men push their way through the packed square, surround lone women, and start ripping at their clothes until they are naked. Some women have been violated by men using their hands.

“Suddenly, I was in the middle, surrounded by hundreds of men in a circle that was getting smaller and smaller around me,” one woman has written of the experience. “At the same time, they were touching and groping me everywhere and there were so many hands under my shirt and inside my pants.”

“We call it the circle of hell,” said Bahgat, who herself narrowly escaped assault this week.

Since last November, help has been at hand. Two volunteer rescue groups – Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (OpAntish) and Tahrir Bodyguard – have squads of rescuers patrolling the square in groups of around 15. The two organisations have slightly different tactics and uniforms, but their methods are broadly the same. They seek to fight off the attackers, sometimes with clubs and flamethrowers, and re-clothe the women – and then secret them to safe-houses nearby, or even to hospital. Mobs have been known to try to break down the safe-house doors, while some of the rescuers have been assaulted themselves.

Often, random passers-by join in the attacks. But all activists in the field feel sure the assaults are usually started by groups of men who go to the square together on crowded protest days with the specific intention of violating women.

“There’s an absolute absence of any security forces in Tahrir,” explained Bahgat, who no longer runs the group. “And also the crowd seems to have become conditioned to it.”

Such indifference is not specific to Tahrir. While in the past year many more people have begun to mobilise against it, sexual harassment still remains an accepted part of Egyptian life. According to a UN survey released this April, 99.3% of Egyptian women reported being sexually harassed, with 91% saying they feel insecure in the street as a result.

One problem is that sexual harassment is not properly defined under Egyptian law, which makes prosecuting perpetrators difficult. Another is that when women try to file complaints under more general harassment and assault laws, their cases are not taken seriously by police. “Cases that are reported to the police are handled in a disgusting manner,” said Mariam Kirollos, an OpAntish organiser, and an activist for women’s rights. “They are not taken seriously. In some cases, girls filing a police report are even harassed.”

For most, the obstacles start long before they reach the police station, as passers-by try to excuse the harassers’ behaviour. “People say, ‘oh, he was poor, he didn’t know what he was doing,” said Bahgat.

“Primarily, the blame is on the woman. People always ask: what was she wearing?”

When Lyla el-Gueretly, a 30-year-old teacher, was sexually harassed and then assaulted on a Cairo bridge in April, she was repeatedly told by passers-by not to pursue charges.

“They said: what did he actually do?” Gueretly remembered. “They said I should just let it go. If you’re a ‘decent’ girl, you’re expected to leave it.”

But Gueretly for once refused, chose to follow the case through to court – despite being discouraged at every turn – and last month became one of just half-a-dozen women to successfully prosecute a man for harassment in Egypt.

Even then, the conviction was a legal fudge – for mere physical assault, rather than anything sexual – and her harasser was sentenced to jail in absentia, having been allowed to leave custody. Police have made no serious attempts to track him down.

“The problem is that the state has been condoning these crimes,” said Kirollos. “There’s no accountability whatsoever. There has also been zero effort by the government to change how the media or the education system deals with this problem.”

Egypt’s National Council for Women is working with the country’s interior ministry to set up a system where women can report sexual harassment to a specialised team of female police officers – so that their cases might be taken more seriously. The group has also proposed new legislation to Egypt’s cabinet that specifically outlaws sexual harassment.

But with Wednesday’s coup changing the people in power, both projects may not happen. Besides, campaigners are adamant that the problems cannot be solved by legal tweaks alone.

“It’s going to take more than just laws, and more than just implementing those laws, to stop this happening,” said Kirollos. “Society needs to change to stop it.”

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Eve teasing or Adam terrorising?

15 Jul

TWO news items ran side by side on BBC’s website this week: Bangladesh will deploy women police officers to international peace keeping operations, and the government has designated June 13 as “Eve Teasing Protection Day.” Progress on one side and retrogression on the other, they exemplify the schizophrenic state of affairs for women in Bangladesh today.

In a country where the prime minister, foreign minister, home minister, agriculture minister, deputy leader of the House and the leader of the opposition 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.

Some adolescent girls have been so traumatised and humiliated by their experience that they have committed suicide.

According to the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, almost 90% of girls aged 10-18 are victims of public sexual harassment. The perpetrators range from college students and unemployed youth to street vendors, rickshaw pullers, bus drivers, fellow passengers, colleagues and supervisors — in other words, men, young and old, rich and poor, educated and illiterate.

The victims are equally diverse, from factory workers and domestic servants to students and highly qualified professional women. Poverty increases the risks but affluence is no guarantee of safety.

The minister for education recently acknowledged that stalking of female students and teachers had reached such severity that some schools closed down and exams were postponed. Education — the path to gender empowerment — is itself a hostage to gender violence.

Concerned about their daughters’ safety, parents have pulled girls out of school and married them off, triggering other problems associated with early marriage and teenage pregnancies, including higher risks of maternal and infant death.

“Anatomy is destiny,” wrote Sigmund Freud. His statement has gained new meaning in Bangladesh, as women and girls find their lives, livelihoods, mobility and independence devastated by the scourge of publicly practiced gender violence.

You can’t go out alone after dark. You avoid public places where ogling youths loiter. You are dependent on your male family members to escort you. You wear baggy clothes or don a hijab to avoid attracting attention. But you do not escape harassment.

You swallow the humiliation and pretend not to notice the lustful stares, lewd gestures, persistent advances and groping hands. You dare not complain for fear of more attacks, or accusations that you provoked the attack, or even tighter control of your movement by your family.

Public sexual molestation is a blatant display of male power in a country where women (and that term includes girls) do not enjoy equal rights and in a conservative society where women are stigmatised and shamed. A man can insult, attack and destroy a woman’s life with no consequences for him. The law is inadequate, society indifferent or complicit.

The very term “eve teasing” or “woman teasing” downplays the gravity of the offence. Teasing is playful, harmless behaviour. It can be used to describe little boys pulling girls’ pigtails, not men groping women’s breasts and buttocks, hurling abuse, stalking, or pulling off their clothes in public.

Elora, Pinky, Tonni, Sima, Rumi, Runa, Rina and others were not teased. They were tortured and terrorised to death.

What’s happening is sexual terrorism. It is terrorism, because it harms the victims psychologically as well as physically. It is terrorism because the perpetrator uses asymmetrical power to subjugate, frighten and destroy his victims.

Governments respond to international terrorism by curtailing human rights in the name of national security. Society and families in Bangladesh are responding to sexual terrorism by curbing women’s freedom in the expectation of greater physical security. But the War on Terror showed that sacrificing liberty to gain security ends up damaging both. The same is true of sexual terrorism. Women are facing ever greater restrictions on their freedom, but are not any safer.

The education minister has called for public mobilisation to resist stalking. That is good, but not enough. Much more needs to be done to protect and support victims, uphold women’s human rights, punish offenders and attack root causes of such violence.

Parliament should adopt a law banning all forms of sexual harassment. It should also give serious and urgent consideration to gender equality legislation.

Policing should be made more responsive to the needs of women, for instance with dedicated police cells and help lines for victims.

State and public institutions should take more seriously the implementation of the directive on sexual harassment issued by the High Court last year — or face severe sanctions.

Civil society organisations and women’s groups should be given more resources to support and counsel victims, and launch public awareness campaigns.

Many offenders are members or affiliates of major political parties, or thugs enjoying political patronage. Our top political leaders are women — how can they tolerate this outrage? They must tackle offenders in their respective parties and among their supporters, and empower women to denounce without fear those who oppress them, no matter where they sit in the political hierarchy.

A repressive social environment fosters a negative image of women in the minds of boys and young men. Religious leaders condemn women who seek autonomy as immoral. Bollywood movies depict women as objects of sexual desire.

Segregation of the sexes prevents boys from learning how to relate respectfully to girls. Taboos about sex education leave no space at home or in the school curriculum for young adolescents to understand and manage their growing sexuality. Creating an opportunity in schools to discuss sexuality, gender roles and gender violence would go some way towards educating boys on why women and girls must be treated with respect and dignity.

As ordinary citizens, the way we bring up our children is also relevant. Many parents do not treat sons and daughters equally. By applying different moral codes to boys and girls, they not only bolster legal inequalities but also instill a sense of inferiority among girls and superiority among boys.

Sexual terrorism thrives on patriarchical attitudes, prejudices, cultural norms, double standards and discriminatory laws that devalue women and deny them their rights. Eradicating it will require transformative social change. It will be challenging, controversial, complex and time-consuming. There is much that state, society and individuals can do to begin that process and make streets, schools and public spaces safe for women and girls.

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This report shows the severity of sexual harassment.The number is beyond imagination. only in Dhaka 76% female face sexual harassment.

15 Jul

0217234914-blogThe Daily Star
Publication Date : 09-10-2012

Around 76 per cent of female students of higher education institutions in Bangladesh face sexual harassment within or outside campus by campus-related people, according to a study.

The tendency is highest in public universities followed by university colleges, private universities, and medical colleges, said a release of University Grants Commission (UGC), the regulatory and granting authority to public sector universities of Bangladesh.

Findings of the study, “Situational Analysis of Sexual Harassment at Tertiary Level Education Institutes in and around Dhaka”, were revealed in Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, yesterday.

Experts addressing the programme suggested that the issue of sexual harassment should get more attention than now for empowerment of women.

UGC Chairman Prof Dr AK Azad Chowdhury said sexual harassment at educational institutions was a concern. Instead of looking into the incidents of violence against women separately, it should be treated with priority to ensure women’s empowerment in society at every level, he said.

On behalf of the UGC, he said, “We can request and facilitate the universities to ensure women-friendly educational atmosphere and also to broaden the counselling services for female students and form complaints committees in every university against sexual and other forms of harassment of female students.”

The study was conducted by Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) under MDG Achievement Fund with Support from UN Women.

Dr Abul Barkat, study team leader and chief adviser of HDRC, disclosed the findings.