"Bangladeshi women traditionally wear saris or salwar kameez,
and the Islamic veil is a relatively new arrival"
Photo Credit: Muslim Voices
For thousands of years the women living in the area now known as Bangladesh wore colorful saris. They continued do so so even after the Muslim conquests forced Islam upon most of the inhabitants of the region.
In many of my articles in the category of Muslim Sexual Harassment, I pointed out that during the past few decades many Muslim men from non-Arab countries began working in Saudi Arabia and other gulf states where an extreme version of Islam, that is to say, the original version of Islam, is practiced. When they returned, they also brought with them, some of these horrible ideas.
And so this has happened to Bangladesh: millions of these returning migrant workers have been putting pressure on women to veil themselves which, not coincidentally, has resulted in a rise in sexual harassment.
In theory Bangladesh is a secular, democratic republic. In reality it is filled with Muslims which means that eventually the state will become more and more Islamic until the Shariah is in force. Despite a High Court ruling last October that made it illegal to impose certain dress upon women declaring "attempts to coerce or impose a dress code on women clearly amount to a form of sexual harassment," (1), more and more women are still taking up the burqa.
IDN-InDepthNews, Wear in Bangladesh What You Like
"But even as the courts and the Awami League government are paving the way for greater freedom for women, more and more seem to be taking to the veil," reported The Telegraph, Calcutta (India).
The newspaper quoted Mehtab Khanoum, a psychologist who teaches at Dhaka University, saying that many more girls were being seen in burqas these days compared to 1983, when she first started teaching.
Many Bangladeshi women have been brainwashed into believing that wearing the burqa will make them safer which of course is complete nonsense, see my article The Myth that Veiling Protects Women from Assault.
The Awami League government, which came to power in the December 2008 elections, is trying to return the country to a secular state: moving to ban religious political parties and overhauling the education system. Although the recent court rulings attempt to create a safer environment for women, the reality is that the country is 90% Muslim and by nature Muslims are patriarchal, misogynistic, and primitive. The idea that a woman should dress modestly to prevent sexual harassment is accepted by all devout Muslims.
For most of history the Muslims of Bangladesh practiced a moderate version of Islam. That is to say, they didn't know what the hell they were memorizing in Arabic and so could not practice true Islam. But working in the gulf states taught them not only Arabic but also the authentic meaning of the Qur'an in its full barbarity.
Millions of these indoctrinated migrants have returned and are now spreading the disease of true Islam among the rest of the populace. It will be interesting to see how secular Bangladesh remains.
Sadly for the women, they may have won in court, but they have lost in the street. Sexual harassment in Bangladesh is so intensive, so pervasive (90 percent of girls aged 10-18 years have experienced sexual harassment), so overwhelming that young girls are committing suicide to escape it (2).
Women who are forced to work in factories at night due to poverty are especially vulnerable to sexual harassment or rape because the prevailing attitude in Bangladesh is that unescorted woman in public spaces like the street, especially after dark, are probably prostitutes or whores looking for sex (3).
Female students and female teachers are at present not safe on streets or in schools in Bangladesh. Schools have been shut down and exams delayed because of sexual harassment (4).
Doesn't matter, at work, in school, on the street, females in Bangladesh are groped, flashed, taunted, rubbed, beaten, and raped.
I am not a Christian, but I fully believe that if the exact same people in Bangladesh who are Muslims were instead Mennonites, then there would be zero sexual harassment of females regardless of how they were dressed. The worst that would happen to a woman in tight jeans is that she'd be shunned. The same villages, the same geography, the same ethnic DNA, but just a change of religion and the problem would disappear.
When Muslims blame the culture, when they say this has nothing to do with religion, think about the Mennonites, and you'll know that the excuse is just that, an excuse that Islam has nothing in its soul, in its heart, to change barbaric peoples into civilized human beings.
I started this series of articles to investigate country by country a claim made by a reader that women choose to wear the hijab in Muslim countries and that Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are the only countries that enforce a dress code. For the premier article please read Muslim Sexual Harassment in the Jordan.
iGoa, 6 Oct 2010, Bangladesh is now a secular state
“Bangladesh is now a secular state as the Appellate Division (of the Supreme Court) verdict scrapped the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution... In this secular state, everybody has religious freedom, and therefore no man, woman or child can be forced to wear religious attires like burqa, cap and dhoti,” a high court bench said.
The court comprising judges, Mr A H M Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Mr Sheikh Mohammad Zakir Hossain, however, made it clear that no citizen can be prohibited from wearing religious attires either, if he or she wished to don them.
The judgement came in response to a petition two months after the same bench issued an order asking the government to explain why compelling women to wear religious attires should not be declared illegal.
A newspaper report in August this year about a women’s college in northwestern Natore issuing a directive prohibiting students from entering the campus without burqas, had prompted the High Court to take suo moto notice. The court said it had found the principal of Rani Bhabani College in Natore Mozzammel Haque guilty of forcing girl students to wear the veil and barring them from sports and cultural activities.
Women Magazine of Bangladesh, 30 Dec 2010, Sexual harassment pushing many towards suicide
Frequent sexual harassment and fear of social ostracism has led to a dramatic rise in the number of suicides among women and young girls. Also, women are being driven out of places of education because of escalating instances of eve-teasing and harassment.
Sexual harassment against girls and women in Bangladesh is turning deadly: 28 women have committed suicide this year and another seven attempted it to escape frequent sexual harassment, says a Dhaka-based human rights organization, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK).
A father also committed suicide fearing social insult after his daughter was harassed and in other cases, stalkers killed three women, reported the NGO.
According to the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association, almost 90 percent of girls aged 10-18 years have experienced what is known locally as “eve-teasing” [euphemism for sexual harassment], where boys intercept girls on the street, and shout obscenities, laugh at them or grab their clothes.
Eve-teasing has escalated ever since girls and women started entering formal education and employment in larger numbers in the 1980s, said Paul Subrata Malakar, from the NGO Plan International, in Dhaka.
The Sexual Harassment of Industrial Workers: Strategies for Intervention in the Workplace and Beyond,
CPD-UNFPA Publication Series, Page 8 [PDF]
The predominantly ‘male’ spaces between the workplace and the home appear to constitute the most dangerous sites for industrial workers. As with harassment in the workplace, the risks differ depending on the time of day as well as on the mode of commuting. The presumption is that no unescorted woman who appears in public/male spaces like the street, especially after dark, could have legitimate business at hand. The same cultural logic prompts surveillance and harassment by night guards, policemen or any other male wishing to exert his ‘guardianship’ over women. In other words, the individual man’s sense of entitlement or right to regulate all women’s mobility and sexuality, works to encourage and legitimate sexual harassment on the streets.
BBC News, 11 June 2010, Bangladesh 'Eve teasing' takes a terrible toll
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said female students and female teachers are at present not safe on streets or in schools.
"That is no exaggeration. In some places, schools have been shut down and exams delayed because of the problems caused by Eve teasing stalkers.
"Those who are teased do not like to go to school and sometimes guardians do not allow them to go to school for their safety and honour. So the drop-out rate of female students in many schools is increasing," Mr Nahid said.