Department of Law and Human Rights of University of Asia Pacific in collaboration with South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS) organized a webinar on “Domestic violence, sexual harassment and cyber bullying during COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh: Challenges and the way forward” on 10th July,2021.
Ms. Khushi Kabir, Vice-Chairperson, South Asia Foundation, Bangladesh Chapter, Barrister Sara Hossain, Honorary Executive Director, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust and Ms. Zyma Islam, Staff Reporter, The Daily Star were the key discussants of the webinar. Ms. Nazia Wahab, Assistant Professor, Department of Law and Human Rights, University of Asia Pacific delivered the keynote speech of the Seminar.
Ms. Khushi Kabir opined that during Covid-19 pandemic, the domestic violence has increased accompanied with sexual harassment and cyber bullying. She mentionedthat the power situation of gender is responsible behind most of the domestic violence. Economic dependence of the women is also making the situation more deplorable. She also said that though due to pandemic, eve teasing rate is decreasing but cyber sexual harassment is in the scenario to a great extent.She urged to create awareness to stop victim blaming and change the mindset of the people involved in implementing laws and rules against domestic violence and sexual harassment.International and national support system should be bolstered to prevent the existing violence.
According to Barrister Sara Hossain, laws against the violence of women has colonial legacy which should be replaced with new one to cope up the current pattern of offence. Laws should be looked into from critical perspective to see how it is befitted with today’s Bangladesh and reality which women actually face regarding domestic violence. Uniformity of laws about victim’s right after violence can be incorporated to get rid of anomalous standing under different family laws.
“Women in our country, now-a-days has not the stamina to go to police station after facing sexual harassment and bullying” said by Zyma Islam. The lingering justice system is the main demotivating factor in this regard. Further harassment in justice process need to be addressed and remedied to reach a fruitful solution. Citizens’ mentality on respecting diversity of thoughts,politics and religion should be accelerated to build a sound environment inboth online and offline.
Among other participants, BOT member of UAP; Mr. Qayum Reza Chowdhury;TreasurerIshfaqIllahi Choudhury, faculty members, students,academicians,prominent activists and notable practitioners were also present at the event. Head of the Department of Law and Human Rights; Dr Choudhury Ishrak Ahmed Siddikymoderated the program. Professor. Dr. Sultan Mahmud, Acting Vice-Chancellor of UAP gave opening speech at the very outset of the webinar.