'EveTeasing' [euphemism-sexual harassment] lead Women to Commit Suicide


Sexual harassment in Bangladesh




… that led the government to declare

 June 13th

 “Eve Teasing Protection Day.” 


Sexual harassment in Bangladesh is driving women to commit suicide as a means of escape. According to local human rights groups 28 women committed suicide this year to escape frequent sexual harassment. Before killing themselves most of them wrote a note demanding an end to the sexual harassment known locally as ‘eve teasing’ where boys intercept girls on the street, and shout obscenities, laugh at them, pull or touch them or worse.

Reporter Farzana Rupa shares a sad story about a mother who lost her daughter. Afroza Begum sits at the kitchen table and hands me the note her daughter wrote before she killed herself.

It reads…‘I have been suffering for a long time and the hands of those bad boys. I tried my best to live. But I have no weapon to stop them.’

After writing this she drank poison. Afroza Begum lost her youngest daughter.



Her daughter had told her the same group of boys had thrown burnt cigarettes at her chest, injected urine from a syringe on her and tried to cut her hair. For the last ten years since her death, Afroza has been searching for justice. She has gone to the police and influential people in her community demanding that the boys who harassed her daughter face justice. Nothing has happened. “I want justice. I get so tired of talking to the media. Can you ensure the punishment of Shimi’s killers?” (http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/node/1632)

It takes a lot of courage for a woman to speak out against sexual harassment.

Late last year hundreds of students and some teachers took to the streets outside the gates of Jahangir Nagar University. They came in support of a female teacher who has accused a superior of sexual harassment. However, this teacher was not at the protest. She was inside the classroom with her face covered, hiding her identity. She explains why. “If I reveal my identity, people will see me on television, newspapers will print my photo. I will be treated very badly, isn’t that right?” Can you imagine not being able to speak out against the wrong done to you because instead of be shown compassion you will be condemned?

Apparently sexual harassment or eve teasing as it is more commonly known is extremely widespread in Bangladesh and is accepted as normal by the men. Jafar Hasan, a university student believes that “A girl should cover herself properly, if they don’t it and don’t wear a scarf or keep herself modestly dress, and then a man will not be able to control himself from doing bad things. A man can’t control his sexual desire!” Now the woman is blamed for the man’s lack of control. Again the man doesn’t take responsibility for his actions but blames the woman instead. This is yet another classic example of blaming the victim.

Abdur Rashid, sees nothing wrong in harassing women. “Men can make sounds or make any comment to women! That’s our right, we can do it!” Since when it’s a man’s right to harass, tease, shout obscenities at women? How would they feel if men were doing these things to their wives or daughters?

In front of a shopping mall a group of young female students say sexual harassment is part of everyday life. Ayesha Begaum is one of them. She says, “Bad boys, just roam all around, stand in front of the girls school or women’s college, they look at us rudely and say dirty things and make sexual signs with their hands.”

Faria Ahmed, an NGO worker states that “In our country situation is so bad even a poor person like a rickshaw puller can harass a woman! The men are bad! We woman never care or comment about what a man is wearing, but they don’t respect our freedom” (http://asiacalling.kbr68h.com/en/news/bangladesh/1864-women-commit-suicide-to-escape-sexual-harassment-in-bangladesh).

In 2008 the Bangladesh women lawyers association filed a petition in the high court demanding an end to sexual harassment inside institutions and on the street.

After two years of fighting the Supreme Court ruled that every business or college must have a place where women can safely make complaints about sexual harassment.

Salma Ali, the executive director of BNWLA says it’s a step forward but much more needs to be done.

“Women don’t feel like complaining, because, if they complain, they will not be allowed to go outside. Parents will say better you stay at home. When the girls are married she has to stop going to the office, or accept pressure from her husband. There are so many challenges for women. And the complaints office should be women led, but in most of the cases, institutions are not following that.”

There was an incident where a young female patient and her family went to the director of the Sheikh Mujib Medical Univeristy, Bangladesh’s biggest hospital to complain about one of the doctors sexually harassing her. He tried to defend himself by claiming that he didn’t do anything bad. He said, “For check up we have to touch patients. I tried to move her to the picture board so that I can investigate her eyes properly.” He was reminded that for eye testing you don’t need to touch the body. He was suspended from the hospital after they listened to all of the evidence (http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/node/1632). This is a small victory—but a victory nevertheless. We need more like it. Many more if we want save lives.

Eve teasing in Bangladesh has taken such a heavy toll on the country’s women that the education ministry there has voted to have an “Eve Teasing Protection Day”. Last year, according to figures released by the Ain-O-Shalish Kendra (ASK) human rights organisation, 14 girls and women have taken their own lives over the past four months across the country as a direct result of the insults. In addition, a father and a daughter also committed suicide together – in an incident blamed by the authorities on “eve teasing”. Police say three men who publicly protested against the harassment have been killed over the past 12 weeks. Critics argue that laws, which should prohibit sexual harassment, are so poorly drafted that victims get virtually no help from the law enforcement agencies. Families of the victims are left feeling hopeless and helpless.

“Some victims find suicide is the only avenue that enables them to escape this social pandemic,” the BBC quoted Sultana Kamal, executive director of ASK, as saying. This is huge problem that needs to be dealt with because the situation is leading to an increased drop-out rate of female students in many schools, and underage marriages (http://www.bangladeshnews.net/story/648293).


WOMEN have the Right to Be Safe:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11996002

“The laws need to be properly drafted so that victims can get the help they need from law enforcement agencies. Women and young girls have the right to be safe in their communities and to speak out against harassment. The men think it’s their right to treat them anyway they like but the women need to be protected and defended against what is clearly violation of their rights. The women of Bangladesh need to stand up and let these men know that they need to respect their freedom. We need to stand with them and demand that they have the right to complain and they should not accept the pressure to stay at home. We need to stand up for these women’s rights.  


 “We need to Take Action!

…gender equality is critical to the development and peace of every nation. Kofi Annan


“The uses of government should be to foster, protect and promote the possession of equality.”Victoria Woodhull

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Adele Butler, A Celebration of Women 2011



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