Despite various measures in place to get rid of dowry system and dowry-related violence against women, the county is still experiencing significant number of dowry related incidents and violence outshining achievements came on women empowerment front.
Related statistics of recent years show that dowry violence remains at an alarming level. More concerning that number of cases being filed in this regard are far less than the actual incidents where women are at the receiving end of violence.
According to human rights body, Odhikar, as many as 5,699 women faced dowry-related violence from 2001 to 2017 and the rate of homicides and suicides owing to dowry incidents has been high too.
Odhikar stated that at least 256 women faced dowry related violence and 129 women were killed or committed suicide in 2017.
After years of anti-dowry campaigns and related law reforms, the number of dowry violence incidents continues to increase on year-on-year basis.
To replace the 1980 law government enacted Dowry Prohibition Act-2017 but, the number of cases filed is still low when compared against the number of violent incidents.
According to Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), 188 dowry related cases were filed in last year as against 303 reported incidence of dowry violence.
Though the country achieved significant development in women education and empowerment, but the dowry violence is far from dying down, data suggests.
The Dowry Prohibition Act-2017 has provision of 14 years’ rigorous imprisonment with fines for any individual or individuals who provoke any girl to commit suicide over dowry. It has a provision for a life-term of 12 years for hurting a woman over dowry.
But data suggests all victims are not reaching to the court of laws for getting the recourse.
Talking on the issues, rights activist advocate Sultana Kamal, told UNB that these incidents are a manifestation of women’s status and position in the society because here the women are perceived as a liability and many don’t respect them equally.
She said, “There is a tendency of underestimating the girls and most of the family made the girls to believe that they are less important in the society which brings their misfortune in every step of life”.
Sultana Kamal also mentioned that the women do not have property ownership and many of them have to depend on males of the society for economic and safety issues.
These dependencies make them passive and subject to insults and tortures, she said.
Advocate Sultana Kamal said, “There have several acts for eliminating violence against women and prohibiting dowry but the dowry system still exits, because it is culturally established in Bangladesh”.
Sultana Kamal said the practice will remain until the girls do not establish their equal rights and achieve economic independence.
She said the whole social system needs to be re-arranged and every unit of the society from family to state has to be gender sensitive otherwise only rules, regulation and temporary campaigns cannot eliminate the problem from the society.
President of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, Ayesha Khanam, told UNB that the social attitude to women is very partial where the women are not recognised as a full ‘human being’.
She said, “In Bangladesh, women are running the country, achieving victory in cricket, putting their footprint in Mount Everest, contributing excellent input in economy but still they are experiencing violence and dowry practices”.
Ayesha said dowry prevention act has been passed but the public mindset on dowry has to be changed in a positive way too. So, she thinks, social awareness and rejection the dowry system from all walks of life are necessary to abolish it.