Unlocking the voice of women

DECEMBER 10 is the Human Rights Day. It commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As per the Human Rights Monitoring Report on Bangladesh by Odhikar for the period 1- 30 November, approximately 130 workers of the ready-made garments (RMG) sector were injured during clashes for demanding over-due wages, 27 females were reportedly raped, 25 women were reportedly subjected to dowry related violence, 3 women were reportedly victims of acid throwing. This shows that girls and women are the main victims of human rights violation.

Articles 8-25(b) of our Constitution ensures participation of women in all spheres of national life. Article 27 says that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of law. The Statement of Common Understanding of the United Nations mentioned says that human rights are universal and inalienable. Article 1of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”Human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. All human beings are entitled to their human rights, without discrimination of any kind. States are answerable for the observance of human rights. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon said: “It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality — that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.” The media are bringing about positive changes and supporting human rights development. It is important to empower female journalists and to encourage them to be active agents for all disadvantaged women of the society, and emphasis right-based development programs to address these issues and fight against climate change vulnerabilities, economic crises and other human rights related issues..

The Education Watch Report 2008 said that the literacy rate and the enrollment rate in primary schools in the country have declined. Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said that the main reason behind dropouts was poverty. The second Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aims to provide universal primary education by 2015. A rights-based approach takes care to identify and include vulnerable groups, and to respect existing rights to land. Priority for women’s interests helps to overcome gender discrimination. In fact, the more the girls and women will be educated the more they will be aware about their human rights. So, to ensure education for all, provide safe accommodation, education assistance and protection from abuse for the girl children of sex workers also.

Most poor women of the world have been facing many problems and discrimination, and are denied constitutional rights. Even the girl children and women of rich families also face problems, but the pattern of violation and discrimination is different. We need to make efforts to solve the problems and create awareness about human rights. In reality, women’s rights are violated and women are discriminated against and deprived, but they do not have opportunity to say it to others. Their mouths and voices are locked by themselves and by others.

So, the women need to be aware about their rights and raise their voices to apply and practice those fully. Age-old sentiments and unawareness of some men also create discrimination and violence against women. Men must recognize women as human beings instead of treating, or thinking of, them as inferior to men.

Over population is a big problem in our country, but very few women can practice their rights in decision-making to build a planned family with one or two children. It is a common feature of many families in our country that many wives give birth to more children in accordance with the illogical wishes of husbands who want sons instead of daughters.

As a result, women’s reproductive rights are violated, and they cannot raise their voice against early marriage or get primary health care/ treatment. Many women cannot eat nutritious foods during pregnancy and lactation without taking permission of their in-laws and husbands. But women who earn money can demand separation, divorce and remarriage.

So, women need jobs, or money to run a business. To be aware about their rights they need education, training and security. So, the government, private voluntary organizations, and conscious men and women should come forward and work on these issues. Awareness among men about women’s rights need to be created so that men’s support can help to create awareness among women. Make every household women-friendly and free from any type of discrimination and violence.

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