‘Govt needs to act against 13-point’

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Rashida Manjoo has said the demands of Hifazat-e Islam over women’s’ rights in Bangladesh run counter to the constitution.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 29 May 2013, 11:23 AM
Updated : 29 May 2013, 02:49 PM

She says it is the government that needs to act against the 13-point charter of demands the Islamic organisation announced from a rally at Dhaka’s Motijheel on Apr 5.

Their demands include curbing women’s right as they have asked to repeal the National Women Development Policy and a ban of free mixing of sexes in public.

The hitherto little-known Hifazat, a madrasa-based organisation also demanded a ban on all imprudence, misconduct, adultery, lighting of candles in the name of individual rights and freedom of speech.

That day not a single woman had turned up in the rally, but female journalists came under their attack when they went there to cover their event, which clearly shows their attitudes towards women.

Addressing a press conference organised by the UN mission in Bangladesh at Lakeshore Hotel in the capital, Manjoo said she had been informed of the Hifazat’s 13-point charter of demands.

“The demands they made in their 13-point charter, including banning male-female free mixing, is not consistent with the Constitution. Bangladesh’s Constitution ensures equal rights for men and women.”

She said it is the responsibility of the government to remove obstacles in the path of women advancement and take steps to protect their rights.

On her 10-day visit at the invitation of Bangladesh government, Manjoo met government officials at different levels and visited Dhaka, Chittagong, Rangamati, Khulna and Jessore.
She also visited the burns unit and one-stop crisis centre at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, shelters run by the government and NGOs at Dhaka and Chittagong, Women and Children Repression Prevention Special Tribunal, and the female ward at Dhaka Central jail.
The UN special rapporteur complained that she could not exchange views with the women at Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar because of ‘government bar’.
“The government put the bar on the excuse of security.”
Manjoo, in her written speech, put forward different recommendations to the government to stop women oppression.
She will submit a comprehensive report to the United Nations Human Rights Council to be held in June, 2014 on her findings about the pattern of women oppression in Bangladesh and its reasons.
Praising the government for its efforts to stop female reppression, she said ‘special progress’ had been attained in empowerment of the women through reserving seats for them in Parliament and quota in different arenas.
Manjoo expressed her happiness to see women in Bangladesh’s top state positions though they hold only 20 percent of seats in Parliament.
She thinks the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women cannot play effective roles in protection of their rights in Bangladesh, a signatory to the statute, as the government has reservations about two of its articles.
She sought government attention to women of the minority communities.
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