Patriarchy breeds deep-rooted misogyny across Bangladeshi society

Women have to take risks at every step while walking down the streets. In the vast area of Bangladesh, there is hardly any place where a woman can breathe safely. Hatred towards women is being spread at every level of society. 

Farabi Bin Zahir Mar 06, 2024
Bangladeshi women (Photo: Youtube)

The term "women hatred" is a subject of considerable discussion and desire within patriarchal societies. The patriarchal social framework perceives certain heroism in propagating animosity towards women. Within this societal structure, women encounter daily trials, as hatred towards them is disseminated for reasons that frequently render women themselves the victims. Regardless of the circumstances, this society tends to vehemently channel all forms of aversion towards women. The patriarchal social system exhibits an unwillingness to accord women their due human dignity, relegating them to mere objects of pleasure and vitriol. In this male-dominated society, continuous efforts are made to devise new means of oppressing women daily.

The woman towards whom there is so much hatred and vitriol in this society, does she not contribute anything to the society? According to the preliminary report of the Population and Housing Census 2022 of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the total population of the country is now 16 crore 51 lakh 58 thousand 616 (160.5 million). Of this, the male population is 8 crore 17 lakhs 12 thousand 824 and the female population is 8 crore 33 lakh 47 thousand 206. It is visible that the number of females is higher than males in society. Women are in the majority in terms of numbers in Bangladesh. 

According to the 'World Population Situation 2021' report of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the average life expectancy of women in Bangladesh is 75 years, while that of men is 71 years. Research by the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) titled 'Realizing the Demographic Dividend in Bangladesh Promoting Female Labor Force Participation' found that women contribute 20 percent to GDP. This means that the value of the work a woman does in exchange for money in the formal and informal sectors in a year is only 13 to 22 percent. They do not get any value in exchange for the remaining 78 to 87 percent of the work. If this was included in the GDP, women's contribution would have been equal to that of men. The economic loss due to violence against women is equivalent to 2 percent of GDP. Currently, Bangladesh's GDP is close to 24 lakh crore Taka. Calculating 20 percent of this, the value of women's work in the broader agriculture, industry and service sectors of the economy in exchange for money is 4 lakh 80 thousand crore Taka per year. According to the Survey of Manufacturing Industries (SMI) conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), women's participation in this sector is 44 percent. In numbers that is 24 lakh 4 thousand 671 people. Of these working women, the majority 54.92 percent work in large industrial establishments. According to 2021 data from the Asian Center for Development, 40 lakh workers work in the apparel sector. Of them, 59.12 percent are women. One of the sectors contributing to GDP is wholesale and retail trade and commerce. The 'Wholesale and Retail Trade Survey-2020' conducted by BBS says the number of women entrepreneurs in this sector is two lakh three thousand 189.

Women's contribution to development

According to the leading women's organization Women and e-Commerce Trust (Wi), the number of women entrepreneurs in their women's group has crossed 1.2 million. Statistics show that women are working shoulder-to-shoulder with men at every level of the state. Women's contribution to the economy is no less than that of men. Women are one of the driving forces behind the development we take pride in today. In a country where more than half of the populations are women, how can the country develop by keeping them confined at home?

Let's also highlight how much contribution these women, who contribute so much to development, get from this patriarchal society. Based on news published in 12 daily newspapers, the Central Legal Aid Subcommittee of the Bangladesh Women's Council prepared a report for the period of January to December 2023. According to the report, a total of 1,351 girls and 1,586 women fell victim to various forms of violence from January to December. Among them, 639 were victims of rape, averaging almost two cases of rape per day. This included 431 girls and 208 women. During this time, 140 women, including 69 girls, were subjected to gang rape. Tragically, 34 individuals, including 25 girls and 8 women, were murdered after being raped. Additionally, 14 individuals, including 9 girls, committed suicide due to the trauma of sexual assault.

Furthermore, 98 individuals, including 68 girls, were subjected to attempted rape. In the past year, 149 individuals, including 103 girls and 46 women, were subjected to sexual harassment, while 93 individuals, including 84 girls and 6 women, faced abduction. Among these victims, eight girls and one woman committed suicide due to abduction. Regrettably, 499 individuals, including 74 girls, were murdered due to various reasons, and 19 individuals, including 6 girls and 16 women, faced attempted murder. During this period, 266 individuals, including 74 girls, died under mysterious circumstances.

 Moreover, 279 individuals, including 102 girls, were forced into committing suicide. Among these cases, 38 individuals, including 10 girls, were provoked to commit suicide. Additionally, six individuals, including three girls, were coerced into attempting suicide. Thirteen individuals, including 10 girls and 3 women, fell victim to human trafficking last year. Acid attacks affected eight incidents, injuring four girls and four women.

 There were also 34 cases of arson, among which 20 resulted in fatalities. Eight girls and one girl's death were due to arson. Last year, 122 individuals faced violence due to dowry-related issues. Among them, 52 were murdered due to dowry issues, including six girls and 46 women. Physical violence affected a total of 231 individuals, including 83 girls.

 In the past year, 32 individuals faced physical violence due to domestic abuse, and 25 housemaids, including 18 girls, were subjected to violence. Among these incidents, eight housemaids were murdered, and four committed suicide. Moreover, 132 individuals, including 115 girls, faced abduction. 

Women's insecurity is pervasive

This horrific picture proves how insecure women are in this society. Women have to take risks at every step while walking down the streets. In the vast area of Bangladesh, there is hardly any place where a woman can breathe safely. Hatred towards women is being spread at every level of society. The more hatred a person spreads towards women, the more applause he gets in this society. There is no respite for women offline or online. Mocking and abuse of women online is an everyday affair. Often these mockeries and abuse contain sexist language, misogyny, profanity, objectionable language, threats, sexual violence, intimidation, insult, and attempts to silence. It seems these social media have been created to spread women's hatred. Even in religious congregations, half of the discussions around women's veils are not about keeping men's gazes in check. The whole society seems to be sitting together to blame women for all the society's ills. In the behavior of a patriarchal society, it seems as if men are a community free from all flaws, faults or sins. On the other hand, the birth of a woman itself is seen as a lifelong sin.

It is imperative to emphasize that the abuse or oppression of women and girls transcends being a mere affront to the individual targeted; rather, it represents an affront to the fundamental humanitarian values and collective conscience of the nation. Consequently, it is incumbent upon us to expose the identities of those who harbor animosity and perpetrate oppression against women, shattering the prevailing conspiracy of silence. Should this egregious transgression contaminate the fabric of social and state existence, the onus of responsibility will squarely rest upon the shoulders of the entire nation.

(The writer is a Dhaka-based columnist. Views are personal. He can be reached at

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