Combating sexual violence against indigenous women in 2016

09-02-2016

Within only two months in 2016, at least 4 indigenous women and girls were subjected to violence including rape, attempted rape, abduction and physical assault. Survivors more often turn to authorities to seek justice which may also trigger a need for revenge from the committer. These attacks are not only violating basic human rights but also instilling insecurity and fear in the lives of the survivors.

“Indigenous women and girls already face discrimination and exclusion in social, political and economic life in Bangladesh for being women and for belonging to ethnic minority group. The root causes of violence against indigenous women and girls include a culture of communal oppression, long-standing culture of impunity, the absence of constitutional protection, a weak legal system and land grabbing.” [1]

The long-term effects of gender-based violence against indigenous women and girls include sexual, physical and physiological consequences. There are a wide range of reasons why an indigenous woman may be a subject of gender-based but actions such as land grabbing makes them more vulnerable to violence and sexual harassment given that they are deprived from livelihood.

Last month, January 2016, cases of sexual assaults presented by Bangladeshi media sources and local civil society organisations.

- On 1st January, 2016 The first reported case was when 11 men allegedly raped two sisters after the elderly sister’s boyfriend has lead them to a field in Noakhali.[2]


- On 18th January, 2016 witnesses confirmed that 4 young people first physically assaulted a man and his girlfriend then they tried to sexually assault her in Madaripur. [3]

- On 26th January 2016, a man was arrested for the rape attempt of a Garo woman living in Dhaka.[4] This has led to the protest of approximately 200 Garo people who later left the scene once they were assured that justice will be served. [5]

 

 

In order to combat sexual violence and provide support to survivors of sexual violence, the Garo Student Union, created a “voluntary security initiative for working indigenous women” in the form of a helpline in the capital, Dhaka. Their goal and mission is to provide security for indigenous women working in the Dhaka. The incentive behind this initiative is rooting in not only recent actions but also sexual assaults in former years, such as the case of a Garo woman who was gang raped in May, 2015. [6]

“There is a great need in Bangladesh to specifically address violence against indigenous women and girls through a comprehensive national response which includes indigenous women and girls in the formulation, monitoring and execution. Currently, indigenous women and girls often do not benefit the same way from protection mechanisms and access to justice in the face of violence as their non-indigenous counterparts.”[7]

 For more information please contact: Naz Tuncay, Human Rights Officer, ntuncay@ghrd.org


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