Harassment usually refers to unwelcome sexual advances, plead or request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual or individuals specially girls and women physically and mentally. It also includes nonphysical forms such as catchalls, body shaming, suggestive staring, committing online harassment, non-consensual sexting, doxing, making offensive jokes or remarks, hazing and prank, belittling, demeaning and ridiculing.
Types of harassment against
Women: There are various forms of harassment against women and some of them are briefed Below:
Domestic harassment: Domestic harassment is a form of harassment that may occur against any family member at home. Domestic harassment can also be named domestic abuse or intimate partner harassment which may refer to any pattern of behavior that is used to exercise power and control over an intimate partner. It encompasses physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions that influence another person.
Online harassment: Online or digital harassment against women refers to any of harassment that is committed, assisted or aggravated by the use of information and communication technology (mobile phones, internet, social media, computer games and email or text messaging) against women.
Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying involves the sending of intimidating or threatening messages.
Non-consensual sexting: Non-consensual sexting involves the sending of explicit messages or photos without the recipient’s consent.
Doxing: Doxing involves the public release of private or identifying information about the victim.
Concrete materials used to harassment: Display or circulation or written materials or pictures degrading to an individual or gender group where such display is not directly related to academic freedom or to an educational/pedagogical, artistic, or work purpose.
Causes of sexual harassment against women: There are many causes behind sexual harassment against women and some of them are discussed below:
Lack of education: Lack of education is greatly responsible for harassment against women. Since a greater section of women in our country are illiterate, they do not have any clear idea about their rights and responsibilities. They easily fall victim to this problem. This lack of education makes their life more vulnerable.
Poverty: Poverty is also responsible for vulnerable situation of women. Most of the women of our country are busy with household chores and family affairs instead of involving them with any financial activity. They are greatly dependent on their male partners for their livelihood. They have to bear about all the unbearable abuses and violence for their financial incapability.
Lack of security for women: There is a lack of security for women traveling to and from their workplaces, no transport facilities are provided for women at night.
Power games: Social and political changes in modern era have changed power relationships. Some men feel threatened by the career advancement and new-found independence and assertiveness at home and / or at work of women.
Socialization: In a culture where it is, or was until recently, “OK” to discriminate against people because they are different (in terms of gender, race, culture, religion, lifestyle, political conviction or whatever), the abuse of power of humiliation, that is typical of sexual harassment will not be unusual. Harassment is often closely linked to prejudice in general, and to sexist attitudes.
Something for something: Something for something harassment occurs when a manager or person in a position of power offers to give or withhold something in exchange for a sexual favor. Many of the high-profile scandals that gave momentum to the #MeToo movement involved something for something.
Effects of harassment against women: The effects of harassment against women vary widely. It depends on the nature of the particular incidents, the woman’s relationship with the abuser and the context in which it took place. Gender based violence typically has physical, psychological and other effects. Some effects are discussed below:
Physical: The physical effect of harassment against women usually results in physical injury, disability, chronic health problems, sexual and reproductive health problems naming sexually transmitted diseases, spread of HIV and high risk pregnancies.
Psychological: Psychological effects include both direct and indirect such as:
Direct: Direct Psychological effects include anxiety, fear, mistrust of other, inability to concentrate, loneliness, post traumatic stress disorder, depressions and suicide.
Indirect: Indirect psychosomatic illness, withdrawal, alcohol, or drug use.
Economic and social impact: The economic and social impact of harassment are ostracism, social stigma at community level and reduced ability to participate in social and economic activities. It also causes to damage women’s confidence in fear of venturing into public access. Drop out from school or college and joblessness due to absenteeism are very common effect of harassment.
Recommendations to curb persecution against women: There are some recommendations given below to curb the harassment against women:
1. There should be enough educational programs to raise social awareness in all societies and cultures, both men and women.
2. A legal framework can be said to be robust in protecting women from harassment when the laws are free from misogynist phrases that creates stereotypes. Governments should ratify the relevant human rights treaties and conventions and translate these into national laws so that there is an appropriate framework to support women and girls.
3. Law enforcement and prosecution are necessary in order to involve judicial system to combat harassment against women.
4. There should be enough opportunities of employments and participation in political parties along with security and safety for women.
5. Media should also play an important-watchdog role in ensuring women’s rights.
6. Legal procedure should be simplified to make them accessible for illiterate women and change the attitude of men towards women.
7. Training and sensitization are needed at all levels of the judicial system.
8. The health care department of government or ministry of health should develop a policy on the role of health care sector.
9. Implement effective measures to guarantee to all Bangladeshis, without distinction based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin, the right to security of person and protection by the state against harassment or bodily harm are to be ensured.
10. Above all, a well-planned monitoring and evaluation process of the laws need to be installed to check whether the taken steps are working well.
Women are everyday common targets of discrimination, exploitation, persecution and harassment. It is time for Bangladesh to come forward to reduce harassment against women in their everyday lives. We all should come forward to materialize the International Women’s Day 2021 theme
‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’.
MD. ALAL UDDIN