Church must take stand against abuse of women in Bangladesh, activist says
Nine out of 10 women are reported to have suffered some sort of physical abuse, study finds
According to a horrific new study, 87 percent Bangladesh women have been victims of various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime. The study, conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics was the first ever study of its type. "The Church needs to take proper measures and train clergy, Religious and lay people to eliminate domestic violence against women," activist Rosaline Costa, coordinator for Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh says.
Attitudes about violence against women should begin where they occur, one activist says - in the home.
"Violence against women is rooted in the patriarchal mindset of society where males consider females as subjects and women's contribution to society remains largely unrecognized," Maleka Begum, a prominent Bangladeshi women rights activist says.
This beautiful print would look wonderful in any home --
Costa says that attitudes about violence against women should begin where they occur - in the home. "We need to work harder to stop violence against women at home first," she says.
Cultural traditions here find the woman in many marriages at an extreme disadvantage, she says. "A bride is often tortured by her in-laws physically and mentally if her parents did not offer a large enough dowries . I have even heard of brides' parents being asked to arrange overseas travel costs for the groom as a marriage precondition."
Costa says the root of much of this abuse is through "immoral sexuality and large age differences between married men and women also contribute to violence against women.
"Once a 36-year-old non-resident Christian married a 17-year-old girl and the lustful man started sexual torture on the girl day and night. She went to the local parish priest and the priest referred the victim to me.
"Later I found that the man had a wife back in Italy and simply spoiled another woman's life for amusement. I've dealt with at least 10 similar cases and helped victims take proper decisions for their future life," she says.
There is a large inequity among Christian woman in Bangladesh as well, Costa says. "Often highly educated Christian girls cannot find a properly educated boy and as a result their married life gets ruined. Women are becoming aware of their rights but things that they cannot change often bring tremendous troubles to them."
In spite of this grim picture, Costa has found some hope in the current situation. "Comparing the scenario two decades ago, the rate of violence against women has declined. In the past, the number of early marriages and physical abuse of women were very high. The scenario is changing because women are more aware and employed today. If they face violence they have learned to go to local leaders, law enforcement or rights groups for a solution.
"There is no alternative for the Church, society and state to start working now to uproot violence against women from the family and from society. If every family can ensure women's rights equally with men, we will have a better society."
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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