Bangladesh: High Rate of Sexual Harassment Linked to Suicide by Young Women
Monday, December 20, 2010 10:55 AM

Almost 90 percent of girls in Bangladesh between the ages of 10 – 18 years old experience sexual harassment, according to the Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association. Sexual harassment, locally referred to as “eve-teasing,” consists of boys interrupting girls on the street, shouting obscenities, laughing at girls, or grabbing their clothes. Ain O Salish Kendra, a human rights organization in Bangladesh, linked growing sexual harassment to an increase in the number of suicides by young women. According to the organization, 28 women committed suicide this year, and another seven attempted suicide due to sexual harassment. In addition, stalkers killed three women, and a father committed suicide following the sexual harassment of his daughter for fear of social insult. Many young women worry they will be blamed by parents and community leaders if they complain about the harassment they experience.

Sexual harassment has risen in Bangladesh as larger numbers of women enter school and the workforce. Since harassment often occurs on the way to school, it results in girls avoiding school. This could increase the number of girls out of school, which is currently 1.5 million girls. Also, parents may force victims of sexual harassment to marry earlier to protect their honor. Sexual harassment is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood for many boys and addressing these cultural factors is a necessary step to promote change.

Compiled from: Bangladesh: When sexual harassment leads to suicideIntegrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), (13 December 2010).