FIFTEEN-year-old child bride Babli Akter’s fate took a horrible turn when she was allegedly killed by her husband Rashedul and her in laws on January 27 this year as her family could not pay the Tk 3 lakh as dowry (Manabzamin, January 28, 2017). Dowry is nothing more than marital extortion. Dowry marriage mostly consists of greed, humiliation and violence. Many women every year in Bangladesh are being killed, abused and even commit suicide simply due to the pervasive illegal practice of dowry related violence. According to Odhikar’s statistics, between January 2001 and January 2017, about 3,090 women were allegedly killed, 2064 were abused and 220 committed suicide because of dowry. This statistics shows just the tip of the iceberg as a lot of dowry related violence is kept in confidence to retain the ‘honour’ of the family. If there were no giving or taking of dowry, there would not be any dowry related violence. Dowry is illegal in Bangladesh under the Dowry Prohibition Act 1980 and Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain 2000 (amended 2003). However, it still continues.
Ruma (not her real name), a school teacher by profession and a mother of two, living in Dhaka, married Mainul eight years ago. Soon after, Mainul started harassing her, calling her an ‘ugly’ woman – because of her dark complexion. Her mother-in-law and other members of her husband’s family used to verbally abuse her almost every day, saying that her skin is ‘moyla’ (dirty); and expressed their anger and frustration, and thought that Mainul had bad luck as he was not able to marry a ‘beautiful’ woman–meaning a fair-complexioned woman. Ruma tried very hard to be seen as beautiful in the eyes of her husband and in-laws and experimented to see how she could look fairer. She started buying brand name fairness creams, hoping to make her skin lighter as she started to believe that fair meant lovely, as the advertisements say. She regularly watched fairness cream advertisements on television, read about them on bill boards and newspapers and wanted to be as fair as the models in the advertisements. Unfortunately, nothing really worked or showed much of a result. Her husband and in laws demanded a huge amount of dowry repeatedly – apparently as a retaliation for her darker skin.
Eight years into its democratic transition, violence against women is still endemic in Pakistan, amid a climate of impunity and state inaction. Discriminatory legislation and a dysfunctional criminal justice system have put women at grave risk. Targeted by violent extremists with an overt agenda of gender repression, women’s security is especially threatened in the conflict zones in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). On 8 March, International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed that his government would take all necessary legislative and administrative steps to protect and empower women. If this pledge was in earnest, his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government should end institutionalised violence and discrimination against women, including by repealing unjust laws, countering extremist threats, particularly in KPK and FATA, and involving women and their specially relevant perspectives in design of state policies directly affecting their security, including strategies to deal with violent extremist groups.
Another news of a teenage suicide came up recently. Umme Kulsum Ritu, a 15-year-old student of Class IX at the East Point Education School and College in Khilgaon, Dhaka committed suicide by taking pesticide on September 6. Her family and class mates alleged that Shimul Chandra, a 22-year-old man reported to be a miscreant, along with his friends had been stalking her on the way to school for a long time. The stalkers also started insulting her in front of her house, too.
Schools and colleges can form a coordinated committee including guardians, teachers, social workers, law enforcement agencies and so on to fight against stalkers. Social awareness programmes should be included in order to create moral values against stalking.
Every year many women in Bangladesh are killed and physically abused and many commit suicide because of the the vicious dowry practice and related violence. According to the rights organisation Odhikar, at least 2,800 women were killed, 1,833 were physically abused and 204 committed suicide because of dowry-related violence between 2001 and July 2014.
By analysing the overall dowry situation, reported statistics indicate that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Majority of the victims continue to tolerate abuse, if they are not killed, all through their married life and never report it. The main reasons behind tolerating or not reporting such abuse is that they are either financially incapable of going away and protecting themselves from their abusive husbands or they are not welcome by their poverty-stricken or stigmatised parental families.
Subject: This research memorandum presents key findings from desk research conducted in January and February 2014, on the barriers to instituting appropriate VAW laws against domestic violence (DV), and to effectively implementing them in three countries in Asia (China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka).
Background and Cross-Cutting Findings: China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka have all ratified CEDAW; however, both China and Pakistan have not passed the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Research found four cross-cutting barriers impeding the institutionalization of appropriate VAW laws against DV in these three countries:
1) The predominant public discourse on DV is fragmented. As a result, an overall sense of urgency and severity of the problem is not felt among key stakeholders in all 3 countries.
2) Other national policies regarding housing, marriage, fertility, migration, etc. undermine both the international (CEDAW) legal framework, and the national policies set up for service provision and protection across all three countries.
3) There is an overall lack of appropriate resource allocation among all 3 countries for comprehensively implementing appropriate VAW laws against DV. A large body of evidence suggests multiple root causes for VAW-DV, and States disagree on where and how to allocate resources to VAW-DV (prevention, intervention, prosecution, and protection).
4) Incomparable and unreliable data is the 4th major barrier to instituting appropriate VAW laws against DV both internationally through CEDAW, and nationally within all 3 countries. Transparency of data collection methodologies is also a noted concern.
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The United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund to EVAW) is a leading multilateral grant-making mechanism devoted to supporting national and local efforts to end violence against women and girls. Established in 1996 by a UN General Assembly Resolution, the UN Trust Fund to EVAW is now administered by UN WOMEN. In 2008, the UN Trust Fund to EVAW began awarding grants on a competitive basis for Joint Programmes submitted by UN Country Teams.
Violence towards women prevents equality and hinders the personal security and dignity of individuals, contradicting Articles 1, 2, and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A governments' inability to protect the rights of half its citizens also hinders the state's economic growth. This issue has come to the forefront of international discussion as current events, namely the brutal attack on Ms. Y, a young physiotherapy student on a New Delhi bus, have focused the world's gaze to the severe issue of gender violence in India.
Sources indicate that domestic violence in Pakistan is a "serious problem" (US 24 May 2012, 1; Human Rights WatchJan. 2012). Sources report on several forms of domestic violence, including torture (US 24 May 2012, 42; WEWA 18 Dec. 2012), forced marriages (ibid. 9 Dec. 2012; AHRC 25 Nov. 2011), physical disfigurement (US 24 May 2012, 42), amputation (HRCP 2012, 166), the denial of food (AHRC 25 Nov. 2011), rape (ibid.; WEWA 9 Dec, 2012), and shaving hair and eyebrows (US 24 May 2012, 42).
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) indicates that perpetrators of domestic violence can be the victim's husband, or men or women in the victim's family or her husband's family (25 Nov. 2011). The US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 states that in-laws have abused and harassed the wives of their sons (US 24 May 2012, 43).
The AHRC states that victims are often stigmatized and blamed for the gender-based violence that they have experienced, and have often been labelled as the "false accuser" (2012, Sec. J.3). The AHRC adds that when a woman is beaten, society portrays it as being because the woman cannot take care of her husband's needs (25 Nov. 2011). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
Bangladesh has been ruled alternately by two women for more than two decades. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are women, and the posts have been held by women since the 1990s. The country's parliament has more than sixty female members and several of them are members of the cabinet. There are a considerable number of women serving in the civil service, judiciary, police, military and local government institutions today. The mere fact that there are a considerable number of woman employed in these institutions is used by the government to create a false impression that women are empowered in the country.
The fact that there are an increasing number of women participating in administrative, political, and financial sectors, in comparison to the same picture two decades ago, sometimes helps certain segments of the country to make such claims. The fundamental points relating to women's right to enjoy their fullest dignity as human beings and their right to protection from all forms of violence are often ignored, if not totally forgotten. Women face a spree of violence against them in Bangladesh, where the society struggles to consider the women as deserving equal dignity as what the men enjoy. The lives of women are not secure in the society.
The China Women’s University Institute is supported by a three year grant by the Ford Foundation and addresses the challenges and barriers to women’s public service in China. The Institute will provide a toolbox to address those challenges. The first Institute will take place July 23-29, 2013 with subsequent Institutes planned for the summer of 2014 and 2015. According to the China Women’s University, “This Project will provide a high profile training which would genuinely engage women from China Women’s University and other universities.” The China Women’s University is the sole institution for higher learning accredited by the Ministry of Education that is for women only. The training in 2014 and 2015 will also bring together 20 students from outside of Beijing including students from Hunan University and Shandong University. The curriculum was developed by the WPSP Director in close consultation with faculty from China Women’s University, as well as gender and law experts in China.
The police system for classifying domestic violence cases may be abetting family tragedies rather than preventing them, a women's group says. Association for the Survivors of Women Abuse said yesterday the police categories of "domestic violence" - which warrants urgent follow-up - and "domestic incident" - which doesn't - meant many marginal cases were being ignored.
A UN study of 10,000 men in Asia and the Pacific, released today, found that overall nearly half of those men interviewed reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner, ranging from 26 percent to 80 percent across the sites studied. Nearly a quarter of men interviewed reported perpetrating rape against a woman or girl, ranging from 10 percent to 62 percent across the sites.
The issue of domestic violence has emerged as one of the primary public policy concerns in countries around the world. Countries in the ASEAN region have embarked on important initiatives in order to address the issue of domestic violence. It is in this context that sharing “good practices” and discussing comparative perspectives from initiatives around the world has provided recommendations and a template for developing common regional standards, reiterating that there is no impunity for violence.
From 2010 to 2013, over 10,000 men in six countries across Asia and the Pacific were interviewed using the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence household survey on men’s perpetration and experiences of violence, as well as men's other life experiences. The countries included were Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea. The study was a collaborative effort involving partners from academia, research institutes, civil society, the United Nations family and governments around the globe.
The regional analysis found that overall nearly half of those men interviewed reported using physical and/or sexual violence against a female partner, ranging from 26 percent to 80 percent across the sites. Nearly a quarter of men interviewed reported perpetrating rape against a woman or girl, ranging from 10 percent to 62 percent across the sites.
The report further explores prevalence of different types of violence and the factors that drive men's use of violence. It makes important recommendations on how to use the data to more effectively prevent violence against women in Asia and the Pacific.
It is indeed an honor for me as Chair of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to officiate this important occasion as we gather to celebrate the launch of the book on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD in the national languages of ASEAN Member States and to introduce the AHRD to all of you during the 46th Anniversary of ASEAN. The ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is a landmark document and milestone journey for our region demonstrating the commitment and support of ASEAN to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Promoting and protection of human rights cooperation in ASEAN is an evolving process. It was started by the endorsement of the Joint Communique of the 26th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 1993 in which ASEAN pledged, for the first time, its commitment to respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedom. The United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria acknowledged and welcome this commitment. Since then, the process of establishing an ASEAN Mechanism to promote and protect human rights has been started.
Hanoi Plan of Action, as the first Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN Vision 20202 reemphasized ASEAN's commitment to exchange information among its members on the promotion and protection of Human Rights as elaborated in section IV, paragraph 4.8.3 As the second phase of the Plan of Action to implement the ASEAN Vision 2020, the 2004 Vientiane Action Program, under the sub-section Political Development, ASEAN reaffirmed its commitment to promote human rights and fundamental freedom. ASEAN Charter that was entered into force at the end of 2008 gave a significant leapfrog to
the ASEAN’s efforts to establish its Human Rights mechanisms and to promote further the protection of human rights and fundamental freedom. As the last phase to implement the ASEAN Vision 2020 and the establishment of the ASEAN Community 2015, the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint, particularly under section A.1.5, charted the way forward to further strengthen ASEAN's commitment on the promotion and protection of human rights.
The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) established as the follow up the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter, took up its role as the ASEAN overarching mechanism to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedom in close collaboration with other mechanisms, including the ACWC. Although the current role of the AICHR is mainly focusing on human rights promotion, however, a significant progress has been achieved in its work to develop the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which was endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders through the Phnom Penh Statement on the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
We, the Heads of State/Government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (hereinafter referred to as “ASEAN”), namely Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, on the occasion of the 23rd ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam.
This article begins by providing a brief summary of emergence of due diligence principle in the International human rights law. The article then explores the role of International/regional human rights mechanisms/instruments in clarifying and specifying the content of due diligence obligations and its application in the context of violence against women. It illuminates, in particular, the contribution of the reports prepared by the mandate holders of United Nations Special Rapporteurs on violence against women, its causes and consequences. The article argues that the criterion has been useful in dealing with gender based violence within a human rights framework since it provides a yardstick to determine what constitutes effective fulfilment of the obligation (Manjoo, 2001). It concludes by taking note of Pakistan’s level of compliance with due diligence obligation particularly in the area of ‘prevention’ of violence against women.