Bangladesh

This desk study provides an analysis of the constraints and discrimination that women face with respect to access to rural land with the hope of informing future policy and civil society interventions. The country studies investigate statutory and customary discriminations, and they attempt to place the theme of women’s access to land into a larger socio-cultural frame of reference.

The Bangladesh government should take urgent measures to make sure that religious fatwas and traditional dispute resolution methods do not result in extrajudicial punishments, Human Rights Watch said today.  The government is yet to act on repeated orders of the High Court Division of the Supreme Court, beginning in July 2010, to stop illegal punishments such as whipping, lashing, or public humiliations, said the petitioners who challenged the practice.

Police in Bangladesh broke up angry protesters blocking a main highway in the capital Dhaka, over a new law giving women equal property rights. Dozens were arrested and injured as police used tear gas and batons. Schools, businesses and offices across the country remained closed in a nationwide strike enforced by a group of Islamic parties. Bangladesh has a secular legal system, but in matters relating to inheritance it follows Sharia law. Under Bangladeshi law a woman normally inherits half as much as her brother. But under the new rules, every child would inherit an equal amount.

The High Court has ruled that no women can be forced to wear burqa at work and educational institutions. The bench of justices A H M Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Mohammad Zakir Hossain also ruled that they cannot be barred from taking to culture and sports. The orders came in the wake of a public interest petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers Mahbub Shafi and A K M Hafizul Alam on Sunday. 

Asma was 13 years old and in eighth grade. She was living with her parents and other siblings in a remote village of marsh land in Bangladesh. She had to walk a mile, cross a river and then walk another mile to attend the high school. She was only girl from her village who was attending high school. Most of the girls of her age were dropt out after completing primary education, getting married and giving birth. She had moved away from home to live with her aunt, who was located much closer to the school because she was under constant harassment on her way to school by a man of 27 years who proposed her a marry. As Asma refused his proposal and failed to push her to accept his offer than he sent his family to Asma’s family with a marriage proposal. The man was uneducated and a “bad boy.” Neither Asma nor her family approved of him. Moreover, Asma’s father told the family, “I want my daughter to continue her studies and I’m not going to marry her off now.” 

Film in eight parts by Hasan Mahmud, Director of Sharia Law, Muslim Canadian Congress, Canada.

High Court Directs Government to Immediately Implement Sexual Harassment Guidelines in all Educational Institutions, and ensure that Women Not Forced to Veil or Cover their Heads. Advocate Salahuddin Dolon v Bangladesh, Writ Petition No. 4495 of 2009. Summary: The High Court today directed the Ministry of Education to take immediate steps to implement the Guidelines on Sexual Harassment declared earlier in BNWLA v Bangladesh, and to ensure that no woman working in any educational institution, public or private is forced to wear a veil or cover her head, and may exercise her personal choice whether or not to do so. The Court also observed that Section 27A of the Government Servants Discipline and Conduct Rules 1979, must be read alongside these Guidelines, to ensure that public officials are held to account for any acts of sexual harassment.

Bangladesh’s High Court has ordered authorities in an eastern district to protect and produce in court a 16-year-old girl who was lashed 101 times earlier this month after becoming pregnant as the result of a rape. The girl, who has not been named, received the punishment on the orders of village elders in the Brahmanbaria district who issued a “fatwa,” or Islamic ruling, declaring that she be flogged for immoral behavior. The elders pardoned the 20 year-old rapist. The incident occurred five months after the country’s highest court issued a ruling ordering authorities to investigate incidents of extra-judicial punishments and take action against those responsible.

Bangladesh’s dozens of Islamic political parties must drop Islam from their name and stop using religion when on the campaign trail following a court ruling, the country’s law minister said on Monday. The Supreme Court on Sunday upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court from 2005 throwing out the fifth amendment of the constitution, which had allowed religion-based politics to flourish in the country since the late 1970s. “All politics based on religion are going to be banned as per the original constitution,” Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said.

Catherine Makino interviews leading Bangladeshi human rights activist Sultana Kamal.
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