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Bangladesh: UN rights expert calls for greater accountability for acts of violence against women

DHAKA / GENEVA (30 May 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, today urged the Government of Bangladesh to address the challenges faced by women who are victims of violence in accessing justice and seeking redress.

“The absence of effective implementation of existing laws, the lack of responsive justice systems, and impunity for acts of violence, was the rule rather than the exception in cases of violence against women,” the human rights expert said at the end of her first official visit to the country, from 19 to 29 May.

Ms. Manjoo noted that the most pervasive form of violence against women in Bangladesh is domestic violence, with a high percentage of married women reported having experienced violence at the hands of a spouse and/or in-laws. Other manifestations include different forms of sexual violence including rape and eve-teasing; discrimination and violence based on ethnicity, religion, caste, indigenous status, disability, or work; dowry-related violence; sexual harassment; forced and/or early marriages; acid attacks; psychological violence in custodial settings; and economic exploitation and cross-border trafficking.

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the efforts made towards empowering women in Bangladesh, but expressed her concerns at the strong persistence of patriarchal attitudes towards women as well as stereotypical views regarding what their roles and responsibilities should be. “Such attitudes and behaviour have the effect of perpetuating discrimination against women and girls, and contribute to the continuation of violence against them,” she said.

Ms. Manjoo also commended the steps taken by the Government towards legislative, policy and programmatic measures to address the development needs of women generally, and violence against women specifically. Despite some positive developments, discrimination and violence against women continues in law and practice and is manifested in various ways.

Ms. Manjoo also referred to the situation of tribal/indigenous peoples and minorities and the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced in numerous areas of life by these women.

In her conclusion, she stressed the need for women’s empowerment to be coupled with social transformation to address the systemic and structural causes of inequality and discrimination, and also for urgent attention to the accountability deficit as regards cases of violence against women.

During her ten-day visit, the Independent Expert met with government authorities and representatives of the civil society in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rangamati, Khulna and Jessore.

The Special Rapporteur’s comprehensive findings will be discussed in the report to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Ms. Rashida Manjoo (South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Manjoo also holds a part-time position as a Professor in the Department of Public Law of the University of Cape Town. Learn more, visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/index.htm

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13374&LangID=E

UN Human Rights Country Page – Bangladesh: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/BDIndex.aspx

For more information and press inquiries, please contact:
In Dhaka: Mahtabul Hakim (+88 02 9858593 / mahtabul.hakim@unwomen.org) or Kim Turcotte (+41 79 201 0116 or +41 79 201 0118 / kturcotte@ohchr.org )
In Geneva: Pol Planas (+41 22 917 9657 / pplanas@ohchr.org ) or write to vaw@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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