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Women’s Rights

Syeda Rubbaiyat Hossain*

This chapter traces the legal developments during the year to advance the protection of women’s rights in conformity with UNCEDAW. It also looks at the sources of inequality in laws and policies as contributory causes of discrimination and violence against women in the family, the community, the workplace and the public arena.

International and Constitutional Developments

The UNCEDAW Committee in its review of Bangladesh’s progress on implementation of the Convention in 2004 had recommended that the Government set a time limit for withdrawal of reservations to Articles 2 and 16.1(c), and take measures to incorporate into domestic law all unreserved provisions. In particular, it had recommended the enactment of legislation to grant equal citizenship rights to women and men, and on remedies for domestic violence. It also called for ensuring equal participation of women in the political process through direct elections.

The Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs, who led the offi cial delegation to the Committee hearings, committed the Government to review the reservations, to amend the citizenship laws and to enact a law on domestic violence before the next reporting period. The Minister did not agree with the recommendation for direct elections to be held for seats reserved for women in the National Parliament since there was no constitutional bar on women directly contesting for the general seats.

Draft Bill on Citizenship

The Ministry of Law framed a draft Citizenship Bill in 2005, which provided for acquiring, terminating and renouncing citizenship. [1] The Bill contained provisions for transfer of citizenship to children of Bangladeshi women married to foreign nationals, in conformity with the CEDAW Committee’s recommendation in 2004. This proposal was welcomed at consultations held by the Ministry with women’s groups and others, including ASK and the Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, who also reviewed and commented on the draft Bill. The Bill was not tabled in Parliament during the year. [2]

Draft Bill on Domestic Violence

The Law Commission had prepared a draft Bill on domestic violence after eliciting views from the Judges of the Nari o Shishu Nirjatan Court, District Judges, District Magistrates, Family Courts, women’s organizations, NGOs, academics and others. The Bill, if enacted, would have gone some way to meet the recommendations of the UNCEDAW Committee, which had urged States’ parties to adopt, “a comprehensive approach to address violence against women and girls,” and “specific legislation on domestic violence within a clear time frame.” [3] The Bill proposed a definition of domestic violence as follows:

“Violence perpetrated by a man upon a woman and vice versa in course of leading a domestic life. Domestic violence is not confined to married couples only, but extends to cover other couples who are jointly living together. It may also cover men and women other than husbands and wives, such as parents, brothers, sisters or co-tenants, domestic help, etc. Domestic violence may also be caused to young girls who may become victims of sexual assault within the family.” [4]

Domestic violence, according to the Bill, included physical, sexual and psychological abuse. It fell short of expressly identifying economic deprivation as a form of violence, although this is a major means for controlling a woman’s mobility and autonomy. Controversially, Section 3(b)(ii) extended sexual abuse to imply “forcibly marrying a religiously prohibited woman ( sic ) or establishing illicit sexual connection with such a woman voluntarily or otherwise…” The Bill proposed authorizing the Court to issue an interim protection order pending any investigation relating to an offence of domestic violence (sec. 4), for a period not exceeding twelve months (sec. 6), and to direct the offender to pay compensation (sec.10) in case of personal injury, psychological damage or damage to property, financial loss or trauma.

ASK and BNWLA, while supporting the need in principle for such legislation, held separate discussions with judges, lawyers, women’s rights defenders and other stakeholders on the Bill, and submitted detailed comments and recommendations to the Ministry of Law. [5]

ASK, in addition, recommended that the Government adopt the following strategies to curtail domestic violence:

  • Enact laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination against women.
  • Amend laws to criminalise marital rape.
  • Maintain national statistics on the nature and degree of domestic violence.
  • Launch awareness campaigns about the law and its utility.
  • Establish a clear domestic violence policy within the justice system (police, local bodies, and courts).
  • Formulate clear guidelines for police intervention in domestic violence cases.
  • Develop standardized protocols for medical personnel and provide training on the management of domestic violence survivors.
  • Expand the number of shelter homes for survivors and their dependents and improve the quality of services.
  • Provide comprehensive services for medical and health care, police protection and security, legal help, counseling and shelter.
  • Support NGOs work in deterring domestic violence.
  • Provide legal representation for survivors of domestic violence.
  • Expand women’s access to micro-credit, skills training, and employment.

The Divorce Act, 1869 (Amendment) Bill

The Law Commission submitted the draft of an amendment to the Divorce Act, 1869 to the Ministry of Law on 19 February 2006 with a view to bring substantial relief and speedy justice to Christian women who currently have to wait for several years to get final divorce decrees or to nullify a marriage or obtain judicial separation.

Section 4 of the Divorce Act gave the District Courts concurrent jurisdiction with the High Courts in cases of dissolution of Christian marriages. But section 17 of the Act specified that every decree for dissolution of marriage passed by a District Judge would need to be confirmed by the High Court. The District Judge thus was legally obliged to refer the case under section 17 for confirmation to the High Court Division. The reference was required to be heard by a Special Bench consisting of three judges with a further provision that a decree could not be confirmed under this section until six months after the date of the decree. A Christian spouse thus had to face considerable hardship in getting a final divorce decree following a lengthy procedure under the Divorce Act, 1869. The draft Bill recommended omission of section 17 from the Act and amendment of section 4 to confer exclusive jurisdiction to the District Courts. [6]

Section 10 of the present law discriminates between a husband and wife in respect of divorce on grounds of adultery. A husband can seek for dissolution of his marriage by simply alleging adultery against his wife but the wife, apart from alleging adultery, is bound to prove such adultery to have been committed with cruelty, desertion or other grounds. To remove this disparity between the two partners the Commission re-commended that section 10 of the Act be amended to widen the common grounds of divorce for both. The Commission also recommended introduction of a new provision in section 10A of the Act to enable dissolution of marriage on grounds of mutual consent. The Commission recommended repeal of section 34 of the law, which allows a husband to claim damages for dissolution of marriage or judicial separation on the ground of the wife’s adultery.

Development Goals and Policies

The third Millennium Development Goal (MDG) seeks to promote gender equality and empower women by reducing gender disparity in primary and middle schools, infant mortality and improving nutrition and health care. Bangladesh has committed itself to reduce the maternal mortality rate by 75 per cent, and to provide reproductive health care to all. Significantly, it has also committed to reducing the scope of violence against women, children and other marginalized groups.

The PRSP ( Unlocking the Potential: National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction) set these strategies, for which the Annual Development Plan (ADP) operated as a key implementation instrument. Amongst the four main policy directives in the ADP 2006-2007, the second clause briefly touches upon women’s concerns by emphasising, “…agriculture, agro-based industries, irrigation and non-farm self-employment, rural development, education, nutrition and family welfare, women, children and youth development.”

Budgetary Allocations

These programmes can be effective only to the extent that they are backed by adequate budgetary allocations. Important projects, such as those on Social Protection for Female Workers in the Garments Sector, the Multi-sectoral Programme on Violence against Women, Promotion of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, various trainings for Entrepreneurship Development Programme for Poor Women, Child Day Care Programme and Safe Home Project for Women and Children have been included in the MDG agenda. The Population and Family Welfare sub-sector approved a plan for the establishment of a Mother and Child Health Training and Research Centre in Mirpur.

A total of Taka 708.1 million was allocated for implementation of 19 ongoing projects including three Technical Assistance Projects for the financial year 2006-2007 for Women’s Affairs sub-sector under the Social Welfare, Women’s Affairs and Youth Development Sector. Twelve new projects that were proposed and were awaiting approval included, “[S]trengthening the Existing Women Support Programme to Prevent Violence against Women in Six Divisional Towns, Social Protection, Vocational Training, Raising Awareness, and Strengthening of Public Relation for Disadvantaged Women and Children, Overall Development and Empowerment of Women of Three CHT Districts, National VGD Project, Construction of Bogra Shishu Academy Bhaban, Expansion and Development of Jatiyo Mohila Shangstha.”

Education

The ADP of 2006-2007 has placed its emphasis on the education sector, on the assumption that education of women will enable achievement of many of the MDG targets. Thus, 15 per cent of the Taka 260,000.0 million ADP budget has been allocated to the education sector alone. One concern regarding this allocation is the inclusion of ‘religious affairs’ in this sector. [7] When budgetary allocations for women are combined with programmes for youth, social welfare or religious affairs, there is a risk of reducing allocations for women’s development. The link established in the ADP between allocations, programmes for education and religious affairs may also create some ambiguity regarding women’s position within the society, given that traditional religious practices may operate in some cases to restrict women’s mobility, individuality and agency.

Women’s Political Participation

In the Eighth Parliament, only six women were elected to general seats; in a 51 member Cabinet only three women were appointed as ministers. [8] The Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and the Leader of the Opposition Sheikh Hasina had each contested from multiple constituencies. Following the enactment of the National Parliament (Women’s Reserved Seats) Amendment Act, 2004, 36 women were nominated to represent their parties in 45 seats. [9] The women members were not particularly vocal in parliamentary debates. Several of them were nominated to serve on the Standing Committees but there is no record of whether they raised women’s concerns either in the Committees or in the Parliament.

Table XI.1: Women’s Participation in the Cabinet from 1972-2006 [10]

Ruling party

Period

Cabinet members

Women Ministers

Percentage

AL

1972 - 75

50

2

1

BNP

1976 - 82

101

6

5.94

Jatiyo Party

1982 - 90

133

4

3

BNP

1991 - 96

39

3

7.69

AL

1996 - 01

38

4

10.52

4 party alliance

2001- 06

51

3

5.88

Women members elected to the Union Porishods were reported to have been more actively involved in shalish (mediation) conducted at the UP offices than in previous years, and also took on other responsibilities.

Women Workers

The main concern expressed by women working in both the formal and informal sectors is the absence of negotiating mechanisms and their weak bargaining power vis-à-vis employers. The Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 is an important new step towards securing women workers’ rights (including through removal of the gender-discriminatory prohibition on night work); nevertheless, serious concerns remain regarding its omission of agricultural farms employing less than ten workers and domestic workers from its mandate. [11]

RMG Sector

The year was significant for working women, especially in the RMG sector. The Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 adopted by Parliament on 11 October secured them the right to 16 weeks maternity leave and made sexual harassment a criminal offence. The Act further restricted the employment of women between 10 pm to 6 am, without their consent (sec.109). Sec. 93 came under criticism because the penalty of three months imprisonment or Taka 1000 fine was seen as an insufficient deterrent to sexual abuse, identified as one of the major problems faced by women garment workers (see, for example, a survey of 100 factories by Kormojibi Nari, [12] in which workers in 74 factories admitted to abuse and in 24 factories to explicit sexual abuse).

Domestic Workers

While a large number of women and children are employed as domestic workers, there are no statistics available on their actual numbers. Because of the nature of their work they are isolated within the home and given their lack of any bargaining power they cannot negotiate their wage.

Violence against Women

Newspaper statistics on violence are most likely gross under estimates, since reporting is sporadic and it is not followed. Women in Bangladesh are exposed to extreme forms of insecurity as a result of different forms of violence within the family, the community and in public spaces. This is why socio-cultural and economic dynamics of gender relations as a cause of such violence need urgent examination. The recent trend in incidents of suicide by women, instigations to commit suicide, or murders passed off as suicides needs to be studied seriously. How does women’s subordination and lack of mobility catalyse cases of suicide or domestic violence? While legislation, support structures and economic opportunities for women may offer a framework for autonomy, strong social messages need to be disseminated through the popular media and culture, so that violence is recognized as a crime and not interpreted as an inevitable condition of gender relations.

Domestic Workers

Domestic workers are reportedly exposed to violence and abuse, sexual harassment, even rape and murder. The Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) conducted a study on several hundred domestic workers which showed that at least 17 per cent were sexually abused, 47 per cent were physically assaulted, 63 per cent were forced to work beyond their physical capacity and 83 per cent were verbally abused mercilessly. [13] In twelve instances the workers died.. They have little or no access to legal remedies even in case of gross violations of their rights. [14]

The table below compiled from national newspapers shows that out of 107 reported cases of rape or other forms of physical violence, twelve women died and there were allegations of five suicides. Only 39 cases were filed but their outcome was not known.

Table XI.2: Reported Incidents of Violence on Domestic Workers in 2006 [15]

Age Nature of violence

7-12

13-18

19-24

25-30

30+

Not mentioned

Total

No. of cases

Physical violence

30

18

1

2

3

4

58

22

Rape

2

1

     

1

4

 

Form of violence not mentioned

5

26

10

 

3

1

45

17

Total

37

45

11

2

6

6

107

39

Death from physical violence

3

10

     

1

12

 

Suicide

1

3

   

1

 

5

4

Domestic Violence

According to media reports, across the country 47 per cent of women were subjected to domestic violence, with the figure rising to 67 per cent in rural areas. In 70 per cent of the cases, husbands were held responsible. [16] In most cases, violence was perpetrated by the closest members of the family. The compilation of figures in Table XI.3 do not indicate the total picture, since newspaper reports are selective.

Research on domestic violence has pointed to the need for effective legal protection and rehabilitation of the survivors. Shelter homes, with counseling services, as well as economic self- sufficiency are essential preconditions for survivor protection. [17]

Table XI.3: Reported Incidents of Domestic Violence in 2006 [18]

Age Nature and perpetrator/s

6-18

19-24

25-30

30+

Not mentioned

Total

No. of cases

Violence by husband

 

1

6

5

9

21

5

Violence by husband’s family

 

2

3

 

2

7

 

Violence by own relative

       

1

1

5

Murdered by husband

10

65

47

33

57

212

73

Murdered by husband’s family members

 

10

11

5

9

35

18

Murdered by own relative

1

2

1

2

4

10

5

Suicide

 

4

7

3

1

15

5

Total

11

84

75

48

83

301

106

Dowry Related Violence

According to Table XI.4 compiled by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), from ten national newspapers, 334 cases of dowry related violence were reported during the year, of which 259 resulted in death. In many cases, the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1980 is not effectively enforced because of the legal requirement of producing evidence of dowry demand and because both parties are held culpable for giving and taking dowry. In most cases, parties cannot produce proof of verbal and secret dowry demands. Generally criminal cases are filed in cases of egregious violence to extort dowry. There are many reports by legal service providers that domestic violence per se, without the element of a dowry demand, is not taken seriously by the authorities including the police.

Table XI.4: Reports of Incidents of Dowry Related Violence in 2006 [19]

Age Nature of violence

 

13-18

19-24

25-30

30+

Not mentioned

Total

Death

Suicide

No. of cases

Physical violence

24

125

76

12

91

328

   

34

Acid burn

 

3

 

1

2

6

   

1

Total

24

128

76

13

93

334

35

Death

18

105

71

10

55

259

259

 

48

Suicide
 

1

2

1

1

 

5

 

Dowry is not, as is often stated, a traditional practice, it has modern overtones propelled by a globalized commercial culture. So for example, in a recent study it was found that an increase in dowry was attributed to the groom’s financial need for travel abroad. Another study found that one of the main reasons for depression or chinta rog (as described in Matlab thana, Comilla) claimed by middle aged men and women is the economic and social impact of having a daughter which requires them to ensure her security and safety, and also somehow to find the capital to invest in her marriage. [20]

Acid Attacks

During the year newspapers published 142 reports of acid attacks on women, attributing the causes in 26 cases to land disputes, 22 cases to family disputes, 18 to family enmity, eight to being instigated by the woman’s refusal of sexual relationship and marriage or to refusal of dowry demands. [21]

Rape

Media reports (see Table XI.5) indicated that in a total of 741 instances of rape, 141 women were killed after rape. Women in the age group of 7-18 years were most vulnerable. Twenty one rape survivors were reported to have committed suicide. In 35 incidents of rape, shalish or mediation followed rather than investigation or prosecution of the personal responsible for the criminal offence.

Table XI.5: Reported Incidents of Rape in 2006 [22]

Age Form of rape

Under 18

19-24

25-30

30+

Age not mentioned

Total

Death

Suicide

 

Attempted rape

7

10

4

2

27

50

5

2

Rape

185

21

13

11

178

408

35

17

Gang rape

54

15

11

10

136

226

48

2

Perpetrator not mentioned

6

1

3

2

42

57

53

 

Total

252

50

31

25

383

741

Death

53

10

6

4

68

141

 

Suicide

8

1

3

2

7

 

21

Fatwa Instigated Violence

Newspapers reported that during the year a total of 39 women were subjected to fatwa instigated violence. The most common causes were rape (where the survivor is also punished on allegations of ‘love’, pre-marital or extra-marital relationships, pre-marital pregnancy, oral divorce. It is clear from this pattern that fatwas instigating violence are a means of moral policing which operate by placing physical restrictions and punishments on women and subjecting them to violence in order to constrain their behaviour and choices.

On 23 December 2006, the Awami League signed an MoU [23] with Khelafat Majlish, [24] a fundamentalist party, in which it agreed to recognize fatwas given by Hakkani Imams . This MoU was a serious disappointment for women, and many groups protested the agreement as it would subordinate rural women to the will of religious obscurantists. This agreement was widely criticized as a major reversal in the AL’s avowed commitment to a secular society and to women’s constitutional rights, and a betrayal of grassroots women’s rights defenders who continued to face threats from obscurantist religious leaders. [25]

Table XI.6: Reports of Fatwa Instigated Violence in 2006 [26]

Fatwa Cause

Hilla

Lashes

Social Boycott

Physical/Mental Torture

Total

Case filed

Suicide

Rape

 

5

1

3

9

4

2

Premarital pregnancy

   

2

1

3

1

 

Oral Divorce

9

   6  

15

3

 

Allegation of ‘love’, pre-marital relationship

 

4

3

 

7

   

Extra marital relationship

 

2

3

 

5

   

Total

9

11

15

4

39

8

 

Suicide

     

2

   

2

State Violence against Women

In the last few years as law enforcement agencies have escalated their repression of political and other popular movements, women activists, including political party members, have been subjected to State violence in the public arena. The media reported on a wide spectrum of police assaults on women of different ages in different spaces.

  • On 12 March, the police clubbed female workers of the AL indiscriminately. At least 50 persons including women were injured as police in riot gear charged baton, used tear gas and water cannons to foil an opposition march towards the Election Commission at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka. [27]
  • On 2 July, a police officer and an opposition activist were killed and over 150 including women were wounded in Dhaka city in clashes during the opposition’s countrywide blockades of road, rail and river ways demanding realisation of its electoral reforms. [28]
  • On 27 August, at least twelve women members of the Awami League including a Ward Commissioner of Dhaka City Corporation were injured and 30 were arrested in Dhaka city during the country wide strik e by the Fourteen Party Alliance, in spite of an order by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s order not to assault women political activists the police beat women activist. [29]
  • On 21 September, at about 11 am the members of the Jubo Mohila League proceeded in a procession from the Metro Shopping Mall in Dhanmandi Dhaka during a countrywide str ike called by the Fourteen Party Alliance. Police tried to prevent the march and suddenly started beating the women activists. At least ten women were injured. Police forcibly pulled a few activists, into the police van. The women activists were also reported to have set fire to an auto rickshaw and damaged some motor vehicles. [30]
  • On 12 March, Shahin Sultana Shanta, [31] was caught in a clash between the police and the political cadres as she was going to collect her son from his school during an opposition parties’ blockade of the Election Commission office in Dhaka. As she was pushed out amongst the demonstrators, she said the police picked her up, put her inside a prison van, assaulted her and left her on the street.

Shanta received severe injuries and had to be admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). When the Mohammadpur police refused to accept her complaint against the assault, she filed a case (CR Case 312 of 2006) with the Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) in Dhaka on 14 March against about 25 police personnel under sections 34, 326, and 394 of the Penal Code. The Magistrate, AJM Baki Billah, referred the complaint to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for investigation. On 19 March, Shanta lodged another case (Number: 23 of 2006) against her alleged perpetrators under sections 10/30 of the Women and Child Repression Prevention (Special Provision) (Amended) Act, 2003. The Court ordered a Judicial Enquiry, headed by a Magistrate, to investigate case.

On 28 March, Shanta appealed to the Prime Minister for security as she received repeated death threats from members of the law enforcing agencies. On 29 March, the High Court Division, in a writ petition, directed the law enforcing agencies, including the Inspector General of Police (IGP), to show cause as to why they should not be directed to ensure that the petitioner would not be harassed or arrested in any form, including filing cases in the name of fictitious complainants.

On 2 May 2006, the Judicial Enquiry Commission headed by Magistrate Shafik Anwar, while recording statements by Shanta, her husband, her lawyer and two assistants did not record the names of police officers who had refused to file her complaint. The Commission’s report found that the charges of sexual harassment and molestation of Santa could not be proved under Section 10 of the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act, 2000. The cases filed by Shanta in the Fourth Special Tribunal for Women and Children Repression in Dhaka against named police officers were also dismissed. On 27 September, the Metropolitan Magistrate dismissed Shanta’s case against the police for lack of supporting evidence in the police investigation report and rejected her appeal for further judicial investigation.

  • Adibashi women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts were reportedly subjected to violence in Maheschari. [32] Instances of violence on Hindu women by political gangs were also reported in the media. [33]
  • Rural women, who were in the forefront of public demonstrations demanding electricity in Kansat (January to April, 2006), protesting against mining projects, in Fulbaria, Dinajpur (August, 2006) were subjected to police assaults. [34]

Campaigns for Women’s Rights

Women’s organizations continued to support the struggle of women at the grass roots by creating awareness of their rights, creating economic opportunities or providing legal support. They also worked together to strengthen their advocacy networks.

The Shamijik Protirodh Committee, with a membership of 40 organisations, campaigned for full ratification of CEDAW , repeal of the National Women’s Advancement Policy (NWAP), 2004 (which had replaced the National Women’s Advancement Policy, 1997), for direct elections of women to reserved seats in Parliament and for practical and policy measures to eliminate violence against women.

They urged the Government to fully ratify CEDAW by withdrawing reservations to Articles 2 and 16.1(c) and to enact legislation in conformity with CEDAW articles, particularly on equal rights as citizens and on domestic violence.

In 2004, the Government published, without any prior consultation of its terms, a New Policy for the Advancement of Women which was seen as a step backwards in recognition of rights. The Shamajik Protirodh Committee campaigned for a reinstatement of many provisions of the original 1997 policy. It also continued its campaign for direct elections to reserved seats for women in the National Parliament and supported survivors of violence.

Among others, the Durbar network coordinated by Nari Pokkhyo also assisted survivors of violence to file cases in the police thanas, etc., and to monitor and document these cases.

Recommendations

  • Withdraw reservations to UNCEDAW.
  • Set up a task force or working group to identify laws which need to be amended in compliance with UNCEDAW.
  • Enact legislation on equal citizenship rights.
  • Review amendments to and restore the National Women’s Development Policy, 1997.
  • Examine the application of the Nari o Shishu Nirjaton Domon Ain 2000 as amended in 2003.
  • Conduct independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of violence against women and take appropriate legal action based on their findings including to prosecute those responsible.
  • Engage in national consultations on the draft Bill on Domestic Violence so as to frame relevant laws and policies to address domestic violence as a crime and for survivor protection.
  • Provide adequate legal and other support services to women survivors of violence, whether the perpetrators are members of the family or community or of law enforcing agencies

Notes

* Syeda Rubbaiyat Hossain was contract lecturer at BRAC University, Dhaka.

[1] The Bill would replace The Citizenship Act, 1951 (Act No. 11 of 1951) and the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provisions) Order, 1972 (P.O. No.149 of 1972).

[2] See Chapter 1, p.14.

[3] OHCHR. Concluding Comments of the Committee on CEDAW: Bangladesh, 18/08/2004. A/59/38(SUPP) paras.228-267, relevant para 242.

[4] Section 3 of the proposed Bill.

[5] ASK, Executive Summery on the Proposed Law on Domestic Violence, submitted to the Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs on 9 July 2006. See also The Daily Star , 19 August, 2006.

[6] The Law Commission, “A Final Report on the Proposed Amendment of the Divorce Act, 1869 (Act 1V of 1869) along with a draft of the Divorce Act, 1869 (Amendment) Bill, 200…..” 19 February, 2006.

[7] “With the objective of ensuring quality education, a total allocation of Taka 386,160.0 million (15 per cent) has been provided to the education and religious affairs.”

[8] Jugantor , 28 April, 2006.

[9] The Awami League did not nominate their members because they opposed indirect elections.

[10] Jugantor , 28 April, 2006.

[11] See Chapter 10 on Workers’ Right, p.114 – 121.

[12] Conducted in May and June 2006.

[13] New Age , 15 December 2006.

[14] M. Haider, “No Laws Protecting ‘Invisible’ Domestic Workers ”, New Age , 8 March, 2006.

[15] Compiled from Prothom Alo, Bhorer Kagoj, Ittefaq, Janakantha, Inqilab, Banglabazar, Jugantor, Shamokal, The Daily Star, New Age, Sangbad and Songram by ASK’s Documentation Unit.

[16] Manabik Shahajya Shangshtha.

[17] The Law Commission, “A Final Report on the Proposed Law on Domestic Violence along with a Draft Bill namely the Domestic Violence Act, 200… .” 29 December, 2005.

[18] ASK Documentation Unit.

[19] Ibid.

[20] BRAC School of Public Health ‘Cultural Dimensions and Socio-Demographic Correlates of Depression in Matlab, Bangladesh’ .

[21] ASK Documentation Unit.

[22] Ibid .

[23] “AL-bigots electoral deal stuns all, Party faces protest from within; allies threaten to split unless pact scrapped”, The Daily Star , 25 December 2006.

[24] See Chapter 12, p.161.

[25] In 2004, the High Court had given a judgment suo motu declaring fatwas as unconstitutional; this judgment is currently under appeal before the Supreme Court.

[26] ASK Documentation Unit.

[27] New Age, 13 March, 2006.

[28] Prothom alo, the Daily Star, 3 July, 2006.

[29] Jugantor , 28 August, 2006.

[30] Prothom alo, 22 September.

[31] Prothom alo, the Daily Star Janakantha, Jugantor, Ittefaq, Sangbad, Ajker Kagoj, Shamokal . Also see Asian Human Rights Commission- Urgent Appeal “ BANGLADESH: Pregnant woman tortured by police in Dhaka” . Website-http:// www. ahrchk. net/ua/ mainfile.php/2006/2068/.

[32] See Chapter 13, p.170.

[33] See Chapter 12, p.158.

[34] See Chapters 13, p.169 – 172