HFM-Violence against Women

Statement of Hon’ble Foreign Minister Dr. DipuMoni, MP at the Celebration of

the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 26 November 2012

Dhaka, 26 Nov 2012

I congratulate Awakening into Awareness for launching the First Man Standing Movement to create a platform for men to take a united stand against violence against women. This is indeed a constructive move to awaken the conscience of men against violence against women and propel them into action to combat this scourge through a common resolve and shared agenda among women and men. It is unacceptable that despite many international, regional and national initiatives across the world, globally seven out of ten women experience some form of violence at some point in their life time. This casts a shadow on the various watershed developments made by the international community in ending violence and discriminations against women and ensuring the rightful place of women in our societies.

The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been in existence for 32 years. The CEDAW Committee has set up a periodic review mechanism of national situations that has been instrumental in safeguarding and improving the rights of women through international oversight and recommendations. The Convention was followed by the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1993, the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 1995, the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 and the very recent Rio+20 outcome document in 2012. All these instruments and documents testify that the international community has remained seized with the issue of women’s empowerment and placed gender equality at the heart of the international development discourse. Despite these sustained efforts and initiatives, violence against women remains prevalent in all societies in varying forms and degrees. The grim statistics that we have from around the world makes a compelling case of the work that remains to be done, including at the international level.

Bangladesh will continue to remain vocal in all relevant international and regional forums to highlight this cause. We must acknowledge the fact that in spite of all the commitments made so far, the international community not been entirely successful in addressing certain deep-rooted structural and societal issues that tend to perpetuate the persistent deprivation and discrimination against women. Violence against women is indeed the most unfortunate and deplorable manifestation of such discrimination. Beyond the moral arguments against this vice, the international community has also focused the heavy socio-economic costs that violence against women exact upon our development efforts. Bangladesh has remained actively engaged in the global debate on this issue and has not shied away from confronting the realities with a view to developing international standards that are based on evidence and flexible enough for adapting to the different national situations. For a long time though there was no clear territory marked out for the active involvement of men in combating violence against women.

Over the last few years, there has been a growing realization that the role of men and boys need to be spelt out in clear terms in order for understanding the root causes of the problem in a comprehensive manner and for addressing these causes on multiple fronts. This has led to various initiatives where men have taken up their role in advocating against violence against women from a stand point that emphasizes more on building synergy with women’s perspectives on the issue rather than taking a mutually exclusive gendered perspective on the matter.

I am pleased that the First Man Standing Movement aligns itself with this current global trend and thought process and reflects the sense of awareness that is already prevalent among a section of our men in Bangladesh. The biggest challenge and yardstick for success of the Movement would be to disseminate this awareness among men through cross sections of our society. Our Government will firmly stand by your side to take forward your work. The Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina remains committed to its zero tolerance approach to violence against women. In Bangladesh, we have made substantial progress in ensuring women’s rights and advancing the cause of their political and economic empowerment. The National Women’s Development Policy, 2010 has been bold move by the Government to tackle the inherent discriminations against women in our society on various fronts. In line with the Policy, a number of legal instruments have been enacted to protect women from various forms of abuses and violence in the context of the emerging social trends. The Prevention and Restraint of Human Trafficking Act, 2012, the Pornography Control Act, 2011 and Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act 2010 are some of the instances of our continued efforts to further strengthen and improve our legal regime against violence against women. We have also taken pro-active measures to ensure access to justice to victims of violence and also for their support and rehabilitation. We have set up one-stop crises centres in seven Divisions, which are providing medical treatment, legal support and assistance and rehabilitation support to the victims. The Ministry of Home Affairs has recruited more than 3,000 female police officers over the last three years to provide professional support to the victims of violence in a gender-sensitive manner. There are ongoing training programmes for our judges and law enforcement agencies to make them aware of the redress offered by our national laws for victims of violence as well as of our commitments to international treaties and conventions. We are also actively working on awareness raising and advocacy programmes focusing on men and boys in prevention of violence against women and changing the mindset and existing stereotypes about the traditional role of women and men in our society.

I would like to conclude by paying my tribute to the 2,00,000 women who had suffered most inhuman torture and victimization during our War of Liberation in 1971. We owe it to these valiant women to eliminate violence against women that they had inspired us to condemn in unequivocal terms. It is our collective responsibility to ensure justice for these grievous wrongs committed against these women at the birth of our nation. Our Government has initiated the long awaited trial of some of the perpetrators and abettors of these crimes, which we believe would mark an end to the era of impunity for any form of violence and torture. We believe that all conscious citizens of Bangladesh would rally behind this cause and foil any conspiracy or heinous attempts to jeopardize this process. I wish the First Man Standing Movement all success.

Joi Bangla!
Joi Bangabandhu!