has been witnessing an alarming rise in rape cases, particularly child rape
cases. Between April and June this year, child rape cases increased by 102
percent from the previous quarter; the number of child rape cases filed so far
in 2019 is around 500. This makes me wonder whether men are becoming more violent
or just switching over to children as they are more vulnerable and easier to
difficult to register that the number of rape incidents has increased from the
past. For the longest time, the attitudes of men towards women in the country have
been disrespectful. Women cannot walk on the streets without being ogled at or
groped. With the rise of the global #MeToo movement that led to an increased
awareness on victim-blaming, an increased number of women are now speaking up
against sexual abuse. Therefore, the rise in figures of rape incidents might
just be reflecting that more women are reporting rape compared to before. The
alarming increase in child rape incidents might also be related to that: as
more women are now willing to speak out against sexual violence, perpetrators
see them as less vulnerable, and as such, they target innocent children and
disabled girls who are easier to silence.
news frequently hogging the headlines, there is an increased fear among parents
who have daughters. Regular instances of rape crimes are being interpreted to
mean that women/girls need to be on high alert all the time. Haven’t parents of
daughters always been careful regarding their daughters’ safety in Bangladesh?
Women are warned to dress conservatively, stay indoors, not to venture out at
night or travel alone. Women in Bangladesh have been practising these safety
measures for ages, and still continue to do so in 2019. So when someone says
“be safe”, women don’t know what else they can do to protect themselves.
women have to do all this just to be safe? In the 21st century, why do women
have to constantly worry about keeping themselves and their baby daughters
safe? Why isn’t anything being done to ensure that women can live their lives
freely and not always have to worry about their safety?
telling women to be more careful, why don’t we tell parents and teachers to
initiate appropriate sex education in order to nurture good attitudes among
boys and men? Why don’t we make sex education compulsory in school curricula?
problem in Bangladesh is that “sex” and “sexuality” are treated as taboos. We
can’t talk about it—we pretend that these subjects don’t exist. Lack of sex
education coupled with a patriarchal culture leads to sexual frustration, often
turning men into monsters. Instead of solving the real problem, we try to
“tackle” rape culture by saying: “Be careful girls,” or “Parents with girls
should be more careful.”
culture when women walk on the streets and are constantly ogled and face
unsolicited touching (even when they’re totally covered).
in Bangladesh grow up in a patriarchal environment with little or no sex
education. In rural areas and single-sex schools, boys have very little contact
with female peers after reaching puberty. Differences in gender roles intensify
during adolescence when boys enjoy new social privileges reserved only for men
such as autonomy, mobility, opportunity, and power, whereas girls have to start
enduring restrictions. Their parents curtail their mobility, monitor their
interactions with males and, in some cases, even withdraw them from school.
This leads to misdirected masculinity, characterised by male sexual dominance
and unequal gender attitudes and behaviour.
This is why
Bangladesh is in dire need of comprehensive sex education with modules focusing
on sexual violence awareness. Such lessons can help empower young people by
uplifting women’s roles in society. Importantly, they can also provide a safe
space to address distorted views of masculinity and create awareness about
violence against women.
comprehensive curriculum-based “sexuality education”, such as the one launched
by UNESCO in 2018, can help young boys and girls understand their bodies and
the age-related changes better. And it can also teach young people about
consent and respecting each other’s personal space. According to the UNESCO
website, “CSE (comprehensive sexuality education) is not just about sex. It is
about relationships, gender, puberty, consent, and sexual and reproductive
health, for all young people.” Sexuality education should also be a space to
learn about menstruation, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases and
risks of pregnancy.
New Zealand released a new curriculum policy document for sexuality education
in all schools. This policy is a rare example of a curriculum document that
explicitly values diversity and promotes inclusive school environments.
Students also need to be taught to critically think and learn about sexuality
and all that it encompasses.
words, sexuality education is more than just talking about sexual intimacy. It
includes reproductive health, sexually-transmitted diseases, contraceptives,
consent, gender identity, gender equality and self-worth—all of which are
important themes when addressing sexual violence. Parents should also be
involved in this process; research findings emphasise the importance of
children witnessing positive and equitable gender roles at home.
Maliha Ahmed is a PhD candidate in Economics at
University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
Source: The Daily Star