Saturday, December 5, 2009

Women and Girls in Bangladesh

Girls are fed last, and less than their brothers. They are
more vulnerable to trafficking, sexual abuse, rape, acid
throwing and other forms of exploitation, including child
labour and child prostitution. Many are married by age
15 and their families must pay hefty dowries. Dowry
violence, such as murder and induced suicide, still
poses real threats to girls.
Girls are less likely to go to university and if they do go,
their dowry increases. Many are mothers by the time
they are 19. Their youth doubles the risk of fatal
complications in pregnancy. About 11,000 women die in
child birth every year. Almost half of all mothers are
malnourished. Women are likely to die before their
There were 266 acid attacks reported recently over a one
year period, affecting 322 people1. Of these, 183 were
women, 76 were children under 18, and 63 were men. Marital, family and land disputes,
dowry, refusing sex and marriage were the main reasons for the attacks. Special, speedier
courts have been introduced to deal with acid attacks, which now carry the death penalty.
Dowry and dowry-related violence, such as acid attacks and murder, are still prevalent. A
recent report2 stated that 165 women were killed in one year, 77 had acid thrown on them,
one was divorced and 11 committed suicide over dowry demands. Dowry is officially
prohibited by law.
Girls aged 14 to 17 are more likely to commit suicide, and attempt suicide than boys. The
Bangladesh Health and Injury Survey reported more than 2200 children committed suicide in
one year – or about six per day. Of those six, four were female. Suicide is the biggest killer
among this age group3.
There are substantially more “undetermined” causes for female deaths by injury than for
male deaths. Boys are more likely to be victims of non-fatal violence4.
More than half of married men (55 per cent) feel justified in hitting or beating their wives. In a
health survey, nearly one in two said if their wife went out without telling them, it would justify

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