Measuring the ‘White Elephant’ CurseFaizul Khan Tanim writes on a dissemination seminar which discloses that mitigation of domestic violence against women costs 2.10% of Bangladesh GDP
Domestic violence against women has accelerated to such heights in the country that these incidents have ceased to shock us. It not only became a social epidemic but as disclosed at a recent dissemination seminar in the city on September 25 – Preventing Violence Against Women: Lessons From Innovative Practices in South Asia, a project by CARE Bangladesh – that 2.10 percent of the country’s national GDP is spent to mitigate different issues of violence against women (VAW). This is the first time; such a thought-provoking initiative of putting a price-tag on VAW, funded by USAID Bangladesh was structured in the country.
Moreover, the combined cost of violence to the nation in the amount of Bangladesh Taka is 14,084.56 million. This amount is almost equal to the total government expenditure for the annual health and the nutrition budget. These informations were revealed from the presentation made by Dr Kaniz Siddique, Consultant of Care Bangladesh.
Importantly, VAW harms both the victim and the perpetrator and both their families and again, both financially and as well socially. The direct economic costs for the victims include loss of productivity, loss of potential income, cost of medical care in case of injury, disability and disease; transportation cost and similarly, for the perpetrators, hiding causes loss of income while, if punished, monetary penalties and court costs are huge.
The direct social costs as pointed out for a victim is huge - humiliation, fear, negative impact on self-respect and confidence and increased sense of physical and mental insecurity, increase in school absenteeism leading to dropouts, early marriage, derangement of women from various social and developmental activities and more.
These have severe harmful impacts on victims, children of the victims and society as a whole, which includes increased sense of physical and mental insecurity and tension in the family, divorce, suffering of the children, women becoming burden to the society, children becoming susceptible to violent behaviours and more.
Dr Siddique’s paper was prepared based on a survey conducted upon 483 victims of VAW that took place in 24 villages of Sunamganj, Dinajpur and Tangail districts.
The study disclosed that the reasons of VAW are dowry, ill-tempered husband, conflicts with the in-laws, instigations, negative provocation by male members of family and polygamist husbands.
Assistant country director of Care Bangladesh Jamie Terzi in her speech mentioned that this project is just a start and that it should encourage others to do more interesting and in-depth researches.
Meanwhile, other speakers emphasized on grave issues like marital rapes, domestic violence during pregnancy, and inclusion of men in the VAW resisting movement. All the speakers unanimously agreed on the fact that this silence has to be broken and women should start speaking up instead of taking abuse, tell and teach young boys and men at home to be more respectful to women. The very fact which is very alarming is that, speakers repeatedly told that not only rural but urban upper-class women, who are educated and financially independent, are subjected to domestic violence as well.
Citing about the social cost of violence against women, the chief guest of the event, state minister of women and child affairs Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury noted that violence against women during pregnancy causes far more severe consequences for women and that its impact on the society is far grave.
She further said, during pregnancy the mental trauma a mother goes through affects the mental and physical development of the child she is carrying.
According to an Amnesty International Bangladesh Annual Report 2011 published on May 13, violence against women topped all crimes reported to the police in the first six months of the year. Of the 7,285 complaints made, 1,586 were rape cases. The Parliament passed the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill in October last year.
The causes of domestic violence have been identified as sexual inequality, poverty, women’s lack of knowledge about their right to justice and very importantly corruption within our judicial system. It is said that many cases of domestic violence go unreported and a majority of them are not even brought to court. Unfortunately, we tend to treat domestic violence in our society as a regular and acceptable part of everyday life.
While voices were raised that our media has to emphasize more on this burning issue, an alarming study on men’s attitudes and practices regarding gender and VAW, presented in the seminar disclosed disturbing facts that 60 percent of urban men and 62 percent of rural men think that women deserve to be beaten and that women should tolerate this violence in order to keep her family together.
Chairperson of Ain-O-Shalish Kendra Hameeda Hossain chaired the inaugural session.
This article was first published in The Independent's Weekend Magazine Friday Sept 28 2012 - http://www.theindependentdigital.com/index.php?opt=view&page=53&date=2012-09-28#