In order to understand bullying in Bangladesh it is important to learn why people bully others in that country, what is a bully in the Bangladeshi culture, and the support that exists in that country, or is not available, for how to deal with bullies found in Bangladesh.
Types of Bullying in Bangladesh
Bullying in Bangladesh is similar to what occurs in other parts of the world, with one very significant exception. The definition of a bully in Bangladesh includes men and teenage boys that harass young, unmarried women and teenage girls. These women and girls encounter brutal public bullying in the form of sexual harassment when they simply try to walk down the street or go to school.
Bangladesh Statistics on Bullying
Bullying facts from Bangladesh include a study reported by SD Asia conducted by the Telenor group. The study was of 1,896 teen students, who were between the ages of twelve to eighteen-years old. The researchers found that 49% of the students experienced bullying including cyberbullying. Parents have concerns about these facts, because of the long term effects that lead some teens to commit suicide.
Gender-Based Sexual Harassment and Bullying in Bangladesh
Females are especially vulnerable in Bangladesh. Nobullying.com gives a report that during 2011 in Bangladesh, eighteen females committed suicide, seven others attempted it, and 61 more filed complaints with the human rights organization, Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), about sexual harassment, commonly called “Eve teasing.” Eve teasing is public sexual molestation and/or harassment of females by men.
A sad example of how serious this problem is in Bangladesh, is the story reported by the BBC about the suicide of a thirteen-year old girl named Nashfia Akhand Pinky. A 22-year old man and his friends stalked her. They followed her to school making rude remarks and engaged in indecent exposure. One day they blocked her way and she got angry. The man pulled off her scarf and slapped her in the face. She then received a beating and fell down in the street. Other neighbors saw what happened and did nothing to help her. They just laughed.
Pinky’s uncle, Ali Ashraf Akhand, tried to get the man to stop, but the attacker just became more aggressive. To escape the daily torment, Pinky committed suicide by hanging herself.
The problem of Eve teasing makes girls afraid to go to school. Parents are forcing their daughters to marry when they are young as a way to protect them from the sexual harassment. A research study published in the International Journal of Social Science found that in Bangladesh, 90% of young women between the ages of ten to eighteen experience Eve teasing.
Some of the forms of Eve teasing include:
- Teenage boys waiting for girls outside of the school to attack them with vulgar remarks, make lewd gestures, touch them inappropriately, and try to force them into a relationship by following them home from school.
- Teenage boys and/or men sending lewd SMS text messages to the young girl’s mobile phone.
- Boys capturing intimate moments using a hidden video camera and then circulating the video on the Internet.
- Boys victimizing girls using Internet chat rooms.
The consequences of Eve teasing are severe and include these victims as noted in the research report from information collected by the annual Odhikar Human Rights Report.
In 2010, stalkers directly assaulted 129 female victims. Additionally, 127 men and 25 women were assaulted for protesting against the stalking. 25 women and one father of a victim committed suicide. 10 women were rescued from suicide attempts.
In 2011, 29 women committed suicide due to Eve teasing.
In the 2012 report (page 78), Odhikar said 479 women and girls were victims of sexual harassment. Of these, three were stabbed to death, 18 committed suicides, 69 were victims of attempted rape, 24 suffered injuries, 15 were assaulted, and 350 were sexually harassed in other ways.
For those that protested the acts of the stalkers, seven men were murdered, 74 men received injuries, and 46 men were assaulted. There were 20 females who protested the stalkers, one mother of a harassed girl committed suicide, five women were assaulted, and 14 women were injured.
In the 2013 report (page 122), 436 females experienced dowry violence, even though the giving and receiving of dowry for a woman to marry has been a crime in Bangladesh since 1980. The effects of the laws against paying a dowry have done little to eliminate the traditional practice. Of the women who experienced dowry violence, 154 were killed, 261 were abused, and 15 committed suicide. Six were under-aged brides, four of them were killed, and the remaining two committed suicide.
During 2013, 53 people were attacked with acid, 36 were female, ten were male, five were girls and two were boys.
During the same year, 814 females were raped, 336 were women, and 452 were girls less than 16-years old. Of the women rape victims, 30 were killed after the rape and two committed suicide. Of the girls, 40 were killed after the rape and four committed suicide.
The year had 333 females who were victims of sexual harassment. Of those females, six were killed, 13 committed suicide, 15 were assaulted, 21 were injured, and 218 faced other types of harassment. Of those that protested the sexual harassment, eight men and two women were killed and 81 men and seven women were injured.
In the 2014 report (page 14), Odhikar noted that 666 women and girls were raped, 272 were victims of sexual harassment, and 237 were victims of dowry violence.
Eve teasing results in suicide, blocks the education of girls, forces girls into child marriage, and creates mental illness in the women and their families.
Anyone who protests or fights back against the Eve teaser may be attacked and/or killed. The public outrage against Eve teasing encouraged the government of Bangladesh to crack down on the Eve teasers, especially those who waited outside the schools for when the teenage girls tried to return home. There were 400 hundred arrests made of these stalker/sexual predators during 2014.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide gave news coverage to the teen suicides and deaths in Bangladesh caused by sexual bullying. The boys grow up believing that girls are not human beings with feelings and sensitivities, and are only sexual objects for abuse. The deadly consequences of this are obvious. Women are forced into prostitution to feed their families. Teen girls are abused.
The stories are horrific like the example of Aleya Akhter:
- 18-year old Aleya Akhter declined an offer of marriage. The furious suitor came to her family’s apartment, threw gasoline on her, and set her afire. Her body had burns on 70% of it. She spent six days suffering in the intensive care department at the hospital and then died.
Violence against women in Bangladesh starts when they are babies. Killing of female babies is a barbaric, yet widespread practice. Poor families who cannot afford to pay a dowry to help their daughter get married murder their own female children. This is the worst form of bullying cases, because the infants have no way to defend themselves.
Female babies are buried alive, starved to death, suffocated, poisoned, strangled, drowned, or have their neck or spine broken.
There is the phenomenon of the “missing women” in Bangladesh. The missing women are the societal imbalance in the natural ratio of males to females. Normally, a society is composed of about the same proportion of both genders. This natural ratio is not present when infant girls are murdered. The population of Bangladesh has about twice as many males as females.
The missing women in Bangladesh are on the decline due to women becoming more empowered with microfinance schemes for women-owned small businesses and more opportunity in the labor market. Nevertheless, the problem remains serious and disturbing. Girls who are raped are sent away from their family until the birth and told not to return with a baby, especially a female one.
Girls and women in Bangladesh are considered inferior to men for these reasons:
- Cultural restrictions prevent females from moving about freely and restrict access to property and jobs.
- Females are dependent on males for their entire lives. First relying on their father, then a husband, and finally sons if they outlive their husband.
- Daughters in poor families are a liability to be married off as quickly as possible so that the husband covers the cost of feeding them.
- Dowry, which is a transfer of wealth from the bride’s family to the groom’s family, is another burden, especially on poor families.
It is difficult to determine the number of female babies killed in Bangladesh, because so many infant deaths go unreported. The Humanium Organization estimates than approximately 100 million girls have disappeared globally.
Sibling Bullying in Bangladesh
Females in Bangladesh are more likely to experience bullying by a male family member, such as an older brother or their father. Research studies in other parts of the world linked sibling bullying to causing mental health problems later in life. Girls who experienced sibling bullying are more likely to have problems when they become adults than boys. The long-term mental health issues include increased levels of anxiety and clinical depression. Sibling bullying usually starts around the age of eight and may continue non-stop for years.
Workplace Bullying in Bangladesh
Girls and women in Bangladesh already feel like second-class citizens. Boys have more educational opportunities and adult men find jobs easier. Females are likely to find employment only in the ready-to-wear garment industry, which, in Bangladesh, is composed of about 80% female workers.
Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of ready-to-wear garments after China. However, working conditions are poor, sometimes dangerous, and the pay is low, the equivalent of US$0.24 per hour.
Girls and teenage women may escape sibling bullying and then encounter Eve teasing bullying in the streets, and then be subjected to office bullying at work.
Primary Bullying, Middle School Bullying and High School Bullying in Bangladesh
Like many other parts of the world, bullying is a problem in primary, middle school, and high school in Bangladesh. Because the anti-bullying efforts in Bangladesh are only in the beginning stages, it is important to increase bullying awareness, teach everyone about the bullying signs, how to prevent bullying, and support students as they learn how to handle bullying. Bangladeshi students need more access to bullying information, help, and resources to take action to stop bullying.
There is an anti-bullying campaign started by a student in Bangladesh, which wants to send a copy of information about bullying from stopbullying.gov with the electronic signatures of those who support a national anti-bullying campaign in Bangladesh. This is an example of how a young Bangladeshi student, Ahmed Schamyl, is taking action to create more awareness about bullying. The petition needs 500 signatures and then it goes to the Minister of Education in the government of Bangladesh.
University Bullying and Ragging in Bangladesh
“Ragging” is a type of bullying that happens to students of both sexes at universities in Bangladesh. It is somewhat like the “hazing” that goes on at university in other countries where there are fraternities and sororities, except ragging is based on class groups, age groups, and not membership clubs.
With ragging, older students attack younger ones, who are newcomers to the university. They subject them to physical torture, such as forcing them to strip naked in the middle of the night and stand in a cold river.
Regulations against ragging by the University Grants Commission (UGC) went into effect during 2009. The UGC also established a nation wide anti-ragging toll-free help line for students to report violations. The number is 1800-180-5522. The call centre has staff members who speak 12 different languages.
In the UGC 2010 report, it notes that an official “anti-ragging” group started in 2008. All Bangladesh universities need to follow the UGC regulations about ragging. The anti-ragging web portal is www.antiragging.in and since it was established, over 2,000 students’ complaints received attention and help.
A strong anti-bullying movement now exists in some of more evolved universities in Bangladesh. As good example of the nobullying policies and efforts to stop bullying are the Bullying Policy and Procedures for the University of Liberal Arts (ULAB) in Bangladesh.
The policy of the ULAB is a zero-tolerance of bullying by any ULAB employee or student. ULAB guarantees that any student who files a complaint will not be subject to any victimization as a result.
To define bullying and prevent it at ULAB, they give these examples:
- Cyber bullying by any form of electronic communication.
- Consistently ignoring a colleague in an offensive manner.
- Subjecting a colleague to unwanted attention, offending, humiliating, intimidating, or ridiculing them.
- Using threats of physical violence.
- Exerting power over a person by using negative acts and/or behaviors, which undermine that person individually and/or in their academic efforts.
- Using abusive language, shouting, threats, insults, abusing, or behaviors, which are disparaging or intimidating that puts pressure on another person, isolates, or excludes them from group activities.
- Making derogatory or sarcastic remarks about academic performance and/or subjecting a person to constant criticism.
Bullying is not limited to the things on this list. Even if the bullying is not intentional, it is still not acceptable.
The ULAB recommends that any student or employee that is subjected to bullying, inform the harasser to stop, document the experience, and inform other staff members or supervisors.
Should the unwanted behavior continue, the person needs to file a formal complaint within seven days of when the incident happens. An investigation will be conducted and the complaint may be referred to the disciplinary committee. Disciplinary action might include a written warning to stop, suspension, or expulsion. Anyone who makes a false complaint is subject to the same disciplinary actions.
The policies and procedures of ULAB are representative of the standards that exist at the university level in Bangladesh. The goal is to eliminate bullying completely in any university in the country.
Internet Bullying in Bangladesh
Internet bullying is another name for cyber bullying. It is out of control in Bangladesh. One out of two students says they experience Internet bullying. The reasons for this are the expanded electronic communication means, the ability to be anonymous, and the lack of accountability by the cyber attackers.
Here is how the bullies get away with the cyber attacks and how a person in Bangladesh can defend against it:
- They use fake accounts on free services.
- They pretend to be friends at first, only to get information, photos, or videos to use to harm someone.
- They work in groups.
- Anyone weaker or seen as different is subject to attack.
- They count on the need for the person under attack to want to maintain electronic communication, because it is such an important part of all of our lives.
- People who already have problems, such as being overweight, having low self-esteem, having a learning disability, simple being female, or any other vulnerability are more likely to be attacked. They are also more likely to believe the false stuff communicated to them.
- If you happen to come under cyber bullying attack and you cannot completely disconnect from the communication system to protect yourself, at least use the proper defense. First, do not believe anything they say. Reply with this message: Authorities have been notified and are monitoring these messages.
- Here is a great way to deal with cyber bullying. Just remember what other people think about you is not important at all. The person who knows you the very best is yourself. Ignore the attacks, cut them off, report them to others, ask for help, and fight back.
- For the girls/women in Bangladesh, you need to be even stronger. The society is patriarchal (male-dominated). The traditions are wrong when a female cannot walk down the street, go to school, or simply live a calm, normal life without being subjected to Eve teasing.
- Females in Bangladesh are becoming stronger. It takes time for cultural issues to change; however, this change is the correct, valid, truthful, and pure one. It will ultimately succeed. PLEASE do not kill yourself in the meantime. Stay inside if you must, do not go to school, and use self-study with home schooling methods instead to get your education. Stay safe and wait until the day of freedom comes for all the females in Bangladesh.
Facebook allowed cyber bullying to go to extreme levels. Facebook is the most popular social media system in the world. Facebook encourages connections between friends, especially students that know each other.
Facebook has a help center for cyber bullying. In spite of this, Facebook is the worst social media platform for cyber bullying. It is the system responsible for enabling 87% of cyber bullying.
The ease that users of Facebook connect with others also offers the ability for cyber bullying attacks. In Bangladesh, Facebook is the main source of cyber bullying.
This is a serious issue because those using Facebook connect with the system multiple times each day. Facebook is an electronic addiction for those who use it with such frequency.
The young are the most vulnerable. The opinions of peers for the youngest ones are the driving forces in self-esteem, especially when they are in the formative years. Not being able to fit in is really a big problem for them.
The cyber attacks on Facebook lead to depression, not attending school, self-harm, and in the worst cases, suicide. One may wonder why kids and teens take these attacks so seriously. This occurs because the attacks are frequent and come from a group of their peers. It is possible to believe the negative stuff if it comes often enough and from many peers.
Facebook usage caused the Bangladesh government to attempt to ban Internet access to Facebook in 2015. It did not work completely, because a work-around using a proxy server was readily available.
The action against Facebook by the Bangladesh government during 2015 was in coordination with the prosecution of those charged with war crimes during the Pakistani-Bangladeshi war during the 1970’s.
The Bangladesh government took the proactive “bully” stance to try to block Facebook and six other social media systems to prevent its citizens from communicating about the political circumstances in Bangladesh.
Cyber bullying of the Bangladesh population was not the issue. Government control of Facebook access was the governmental bullying issue.
Political Bullying in Bangladesh
Islamic extremists recently attacked many of the minority religious organizations in Bangladesh. This led the Supreme Court of Bangladesh to consider removing Islam as the national religion. The story was in the UK Daily Mail.
Bangladesh came into existence in 1971 after a war that allowed the country to gain independence from Pakistan. Bangladesh began as a secular nation.
In 1988, a constitutional amendment declared Islam as the nation’s state religion. The recent brutal attacks were against Hindus and Christians.
Muslims are 90% of the Bangladesh population, Hindus are 8%, and all other religions including Christians and Buddhists comprise the remaining 2%.
Bangladesh experienced political turmoil since the January 2014 elections. When staging political protests, police shot activists from the opposition organizations by the hundreds. The government of Bangladesh uses its Rapid Action Battalion to slaughter protestors with impunity.
The Guardian reported on the violence that started in January 2014 with the deaths of 21 people. The opposition boycotted the election. The government uses police as its bully force, allowing no reconciliations with the opposition. The government’s response was to put the opposition leader Khaleda Zia under house arrest for two weeks at election time and ban 21 political parties, leaving the single party that runs the government in place led by Sheikh Hasina who became prime minister in January 2014.
One of the quotes from Khaleda Zia was, “It is impossible to practice parliamentary politics without having patience, decency, politeness, and courtesy.”
The attempt to quash the opposition using political bullying only caused the violence to escalate. Hasina is known for massive human rights abuses. He supports the Shahbag movement that arrests journalists critical of the government, hangs those accused of domestic war crimes, and bans political opposition.
Other characteristics of the government’s bullying actions included:
- The arrests of Adilur Rahman Khan and Naseeruddin Elan of the Bangladesh human rights group Odhikar, who are now appearing before a cyber crimes tribunal.
- The murder of an opposition blogger, Nazimuddin Samad.
- The police attack when they fired on the protestors who were demanding compensation for the deaths of more than 1,100 in the Rana Plaza Factory building collapse. This was a “ready-to-wear” garment factory. Most of the deaths were women.
These are just a few examples of what needed to be addressed in Bangladesh about how to stop a government bully, what causes it, why people bully, and the history of governmental actions as a bully.
In total, the summary of the Bangladesh situation is not very good. Half of the students are under cyber bullying attack. Bullying is rampant in the country and especially directed towards females. A young girl cannot simply walk down the street without fear of being under an Eve teaser attack. Simply, going to school is blocked by these stalker/predators. The patriarchic (male-dominated) society encourages the abuse of females. The men get away with horrible atrocities against females.
One of the only escapes for a young girl is to accept a forced marriage with someone she does not love, just to get protection from a husband, so that other men will not attack her.
Bullying in schools in Bangladesh is rampant. The entire country operates on a “might makes right” philosophy.
The government of Bangladesh is one of the worst bullying examples. They use police power in the form of the brutal Rapid Action Battalion to attack their own citizenry, to quell any opposition, and to allow the brutal corrupt government of Sheikh Hasina to remain in power.
Some progress occurred in tiny increments to improve women’s rights, but this effort needs so much more work. The availability of micro funding for women-owned small businesses has been a Godsend. The jobs in the ready-to-wear garment industry for women, even though they are close to slave labor, with the minimum wage of the equivalent of US$38 per month, at least show the country that females have some value. They should not be killed as babies, when they have no chance to defend themselves.
The story about Bangladesh bullying is heavily weighted toward the abuse of females. Boys in Bangladesh are bullied by other boys as they are in other parts of the world. However, females get an extra dose of bullying abuse. The government does little to protect them.
The government of Bangladesh put the female opposition leader Khaleda Zia under house arrest for two weeks at election time and banned 21 political parties, just to make sure females have no voice in the country of Bangladesh.
The institutional bullying of females in the country of Bangladesh is shameful. There is no reason for this to continue. The Islamic terrorists’ attacks on the minority religions include bombing them and chopping them with machetes. Even, the Supreme Court of the country of Bangladesh thinks this is wrong.
Every person, who has the opportunity, should do everything in their power to help reduce the negative impacts of bullying in Bangladesh. This is not an easy task. It requires a commitment of the Bangladeshi people in solidarity with the global human race to challenge the negative assumptions, to fight for individual freedoms, to support the weakest ones, and to demand the government pay attention to the anti-bullying cause.
There is no excuse for any bullying activities. If any student in Bangladesh experiences bullying, it is important speak up loudly and ask others for help. The ones who suffer in silence may pay the ultimate price and commit suicide, because they think that no one cares about them.
If see bullying, challenge it. If you see someone suffering, offer to help him or her. Bullies only get away with the bad behavior, because others stand-by, see it, and do nothing.
Please stand up in unison against the bullies. Please do not feel you are alone. Above all, please do not harm yourself to escape the torment. That is the saddest thing of all. We do not know you personally, but we know what you are feeling, and we tell you we love you exactly the way you are.
The global movement against bullying will continue to stand up to any bully that does not stop, or any organization, school, company, or government that permits bullying to continue. We are now millions strong. There is a strong worldwide movement for zero-tolerance against bullying.
Dhaka, Bangladesh is one of the largest cities in the world with a population of more than 17 million. Every single person in Dhaka and the rest of Bangladesh is important. It does not matter if you are male or female you are just as important as every other human being on the planet is.
What You Can Do Right Now
Learn more about bullying, what is the cause of it, what it means, how to prevent it, and how not to suffer from it. Check out all the resources on nobullying.com. Millions of people worldwide are accessing the free information and help that they offer. This is the mission of nobullying.com. We are steadfast is making global change so that bullying is no longer a problem for anyone.