Bullying is one of the emerging problems in Asia. In Bangladesh, children are dropping out of schools, girls are committing suicide, and even adults are being daily harassed in their workplaces. Bullying and abuse have become a normal daily practice in the country, leaving hundreds of people every day to fight depression and the urge to quit their life. Despite the cases of bullying in Bangladesh schools being reported to the media, and despite the fact that bullying is considered a major problem by the UN report, there are still no intervention programs that aim at killing the issue in the bud in the schools of Bangladesh.
|SEE ALSO: Inside the World of Bullying Texts|
Sexual Bullying in Bangladesh
“Eve-teasing” refers to the repeated sexual bullying of girls and women in Bangladesh; school boys, male employees, and random men in the street are equally involved in the intimidation and abuse of women, sexually or otherwise. According to the Bangladeshi Human Rights Organization which is also known as Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), it was found that in 2011, about 18 girl and woman committed suicide in the country and about 7 others attempted to end their lives trying to escape the shame and horror of sexual harassment. Such acts do not only affect the girls and women involved in the incidents but their parents as well, such as the case reported by ASK where the father committed suicide due to the indignity he felt after his daughter was sexually bullied.
Since “eve-teasing” is a big deal in the streets of Bangladesh that about 90% of the girls were being eve-teased regularly, girls are no longer attending schools because streets are no longer safe for them. Due to the lack of laws against these acts and because the government of Bangladesh hasn’t issued any laws to prevent sexual harassment of girls and women, sexual harassment is not even considered sexual abuse; even prostitution is legal. The sexual craze and the constant dangers are what drive girls and women to avoid going down in the streets for work or education. ASK received 61 complaints in the year of 2011 only concerning girls who are dropping out of their schools due to sexual bullying.
Due to the increase of bullying acts and suicide rates occurring among the girls of Bangladesh, Dhaka is investigating to arrest 558 people who are believed to be found outside the girls’ schools, areas that are identified as trouble spots for harassment of girls. About 432 of these men found engaged in sexual bullying and harassment acts outside schools were arrested, and police are still actively working among a campaign that immediately arrests any male who is found harassing female pupils outside schools.
Due to the belief that is formed in the minds of Bangladeshi boys since the time they are born that girls are only tools or sexual objects, girls gain little respect in the country. As a result of the increase of sexual bullying in Bangladesh, girls started protesting in 2010 against the issue, demanding that the government do something to stop harassment and to provide better protection for women throughout the country. But the terror goes farther! Those who chose to stand against sexual bullying were being murdered, like the mother who died after a motorcycle passed over her body because she was protesting against the sexual bullying her daughter suffered. Not only parents but also teachers can fall victims to such violence, like the college teacher who was killed because she spoke out against sexual bullying.
Bullying takes place everywhere in Bangladesh, even in schools, but because there are no laws in the country that would prevent sexual harassment of girls and women, it does not stand out in the same way that it does in the schools of the rest of Asia, but rather it also takes the sexual form. Bullying has been always defined as a harmful act committed by a person or a group of people with the intent of harming or intimidating another person or group. Bullying might come in a verbal form like teasing, making fun of the victim, or calling names, and it might come in the form of physical abuse like hitting, punching, shoving, or spitting and it might be violent enough to leave bruises and scars.Due to the lack of laws by the government of Bangladesh, some initiatives, by other concerned parties, were taking place. Some of these initiatives are:
- Meena the cartoon character that was formed by the UNICEF in Bangladesh to teach the children what counts as an unaccepted manner and how they should act against the inappropriate acts they face in streets or schools. Meena is a 9-year-old cartoon character from Bangladesh, who was born in 1991, and she was loved by the families and people of south Asia. The reason behind creating this character was to speak out against injustice and ask for the rights of children; Meena is supposed to deal with the problems that girls face in Bangladesh every day such as their compromised access to education, early marriage, sexual bullying, and unequal food and work opportunities, through everyday experiences that she goes through; besides, she exposes the children to some asked questions which they should answer to know how they would act if they were in the same situation. Another workshop that took place in the Bangladeshi classroom was One Degree Initiative Foundation and In-house which held an open-for-all-in dialogue session, based on interaction between the attendants, aiming to address the pressing questions of bullying and the related issues. This session invited the school students whose ages ranged between six and twelve years from different schools across Dhaka.
- Another kind of initiatives was the karate learning that was offered by Northern Bangladesh to help the girls protect themselves, which was positively perceived from girls and their parents. Not only that but the police also offered a hotline for girls to report any abuses and receive specialized help. And since the Awami League came to power it launched a major crackdown against harassment, even by placing police officers in the playground in schools to spot any bullies and arrest them.
Bullying Cases in Bangladesh
Because bullying constitutes a great part of the Bangladesh society, there are some cases that were reported there. Some of these cases are:
- The case of Aleya Akhter, the girl who like many others was perceived as a sexual tool for men; she was only 18 years old and she was asked to for marriage, which she refused. The angry groom then attacked Aleya, poured petrol on her body, and lit a match. Akhter ended up in the hospital with 70% of her body burned. She died after only six days in the intensive care. Due to the eve-teasing that is normal in the streets of Bangladesh; Akhter lost her life because she was afraid to report to the police, since that man had his connections with the police and was considered rich. Later on they filed a complaint and the attacker was in prison and the case is still progressing.
- Children are usually being bullied due to sexual differences, or different appearances like skin colors or body shapes or even some accents that they speak. One of the cases in Dhaka is of the school boy who was being bullied because he was obese and he stopped taking part in many of the school’s sports and competitions; they were always making fun of him and he couldn’t take it anymore that he started several quarrels with them, until he decided to lock himself in his room complaining of headaches and stomachaches and refusing to go to school.
Cyber Bullying in Bangladesh
The emergence of the Internet in general with its social media websites is forming a lot of people’s lives nowadays; it is affecting the lives of the people in positive and negative ways, and some still don’t even know the dangers the Internet could pose for them. The young generation that is highly affected by the information and communication technology (ICT) sometimes misuses it, which comes out in the form of cyber crime and cyber harassment.
Cyber bullying is an act done by a person or a gang against another person, causing him harm by posting information or pictures that the victim does not want posted; it might also come in the form of threatening the victim by sending him/her messages via e-mails, social media websites, or even text messages, and it might also be in audio messages. Cyber bullying has always been perceived as the most harmful type because whatever is posted will be shared and seen in seconds, and even if it was removed, it would be too late take back the effects of its posting.
Girls and women are usually the most affected category by the use of the new technological devices, mostly because they are usually the ones who face cyber harassment and threats of sharing their photos. Cyber crimes in Bangladesh are still a low priority, as Bangladesh as a whole is not aware of its cyber security, although Bangladesh has enacted the information and communication technology act in 2006 that decides a maximum punishment of up to 10 years of imprisonment or the maximum fine of one crore taka for cyber crime.
One of the initiatives that was formed to fight against cyber bullying was Insight Bangladesh Foundation. Insight Bangladesh Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 2013 by a group of youth who were aiming to fight for a safe and secure cyber space in Bangladesh; it was built to fight illiteracy and to build a good base for the youth to understand the cyber world and to stand together and fight against any cyber crimes they face.
Cyber Bullying Cases in Bangladesh
One of the cases that expose the misuse of the Internet is the case of a young woman who was involved with a guy in what seemed to be a normal relationship, except that the guy had taken advantage of her and raped her. He videotaped his crime and distributed it among his friends to brag . The girl’s family later filed a case, and the boy eventually got arrested, but the incident caused the girl a lifetime of sorrow and psychological damage.
Another milder case was of a girl who had her Facebook account for years but suddenly and for no reason she started receiving unpleasant messages on her page that led her to shut down that account.
Using women as sexual tools in Bangladesh is apparent even between those who are married; an example of that is the case of the school couple who had their affair for years and then got married, but the husband used their marriage and her deep trust in him and started posting some of the girl’s private pictures on Facebook, which completely broke her down. After she had lost her family to marry him, she is now living on her own.
All these ugly incidents imply a bigger picture of women’s horrible conditions in Bangladesh. Something must be done to put an end to the abuse and sexualization of young girls in the country.
Workplace Bullying in Bangladesh
Workplace bullying might involve two employees or it might take place between an employer and one of his employees; it is seen that the person who usually suffers from low self esteem, poor social competence, and negative affectivity is usually the one picked to be the victim of the bully, while people who consider themselves more powerful, or who have low tolerance for ambiguity and aggressiveness are usually the bullies.
According to a survey that was done among 824 workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, it was found that employees involved in bullying have low scores in shame acknowledgement (such as feeling shame, guilt, and taking responsibility for their actions) and humble pride (such as respecting self and others) and higher scores in shame displacement (such as bursting out at others and blaming others) and narcissistic pride (such as feeling dominant and arrogant). The survey also showed that those who were considered victims of bullying have high scores in both pride and shame and they are usually people with lower income in comparison with the bullies who are usually more financially stable.Employees who are subjected to bullying at work should report the incidents to their managers; they should stand up for themselves and show the bullies how hard they would fight for their right, and they should always keep evidence of threatening or insulting messages or e-mails that might help them prove their case later.