(Logo credit: Amnesty International)
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in the USA, devoted to connecting battered women’s advocates across the nation to work together to end violence against women and children.
The issue, however, is not country specific. Domestic violence is a menace that is found all over the world. It is a disease prevailing in all strata of society, present in the lives of the educated and uneducated, the rich and the poor. Bangladeshi women experience some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world.
In this report we will see how Bangladeshi bloggers have started making waves in the fight against domestic violence to bring justice to its victims, proving the power of cyberactivism once again.
Via Samiha Esha we take a look at the story of (*name withheld on the request of the victim as she was blackmailed and forced to request omitting the name), a lecturer of Brac University who was brutally assaulted by her husband, (*name withheld on the request of the victim ), in New York, where he is a student at Columbia University.
*Victim (L) on her wedding day; and (R) after being brutally assaulted by her husband
Pictures tell a thousand words. but *Victim's note says more:
I am lucky to be alive, and there must be a reason why the month-long abuse I sustained did not culminate in my death. I had said my ‘innah lillah..’s and was prepared to die, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he raped me with my head draped with a scarf so that he wouldn’t have to look at my disfigured face.
She was rescued by police and the *victim is now in the custody of the NY police. Dr. Kathryn Ward at Nari Jibon's Bangladesh from our view has more updates:
Her abusive husband's elite family is threatening her family with false cases. More recently many prominent Bangladeshi women's organizations and leaders have protested the continued harassment of *victim and her family and called for justice in Bangladesh and USA.
Some have organized on Facebook a group to provide Justice for the *victim! while others are speaking up and writing to challenge the victim-blaming anti-victim activities of the abuser's, family, and friends who have posted misinformation on these websites!
Adhunika Blog has some shocking statistics:
Studies show that up to 3 million women are physically abused annually by intimate partners in the United States. However, the numbers seem worse for the South Asian community in the U.S, where approximately 41% of women are physically and/or sexually abused in some way by their current male partners in their lifetime. Unfortunately, the real percentage may be higher as many South Asian women are less likely to categorize various interactions as domestic violence, or are afraid or prevented from reporting such incidents.
The Blog lists some helpful links to different domestic violence groups in USA that provide information about domestic violence and different services to victims.
Now let's go to Bangladesh to learn about more violence against women.
On October 22, 2007 Manobi posted about Rahela, a working class teenage girl who was gang raped lead by a former colleague who also slit her throat was slit and mutilated her body with acid three years ago. Before her painful death she could name the devils who did this to her mother. A case is on trial in court and the first hearing will be on October 29, 2007. A leading human rights organization “Ain O Salish Kendra” is fighting for justice for Rahela and is leading the court battle. The accused are hiding from the law and may be acquited due to insufficient evidence. Her husband remarried after six months and is happy that she could save him and his family from becoming a suspect by naming the culprits. This negligence is another form of violence!
In her post [bn] Manobi urged the bloggers to amplify the news everywhere they could, especially in the local media, so that Rahela can get justice. The post received an enormous response–222 comments to date. Jiner Badshah posted another appeal titled “justice must prevail” [bn] to the Bangladeshi blogger community to create petitions, spread the news among the local media and create awareness in social networking sites.
And it worked like a wonder, as articles have started to appear in the local media. This has prompted local journalists like Foisal Noi [bn] to go to Rahela's village and dig up more information on the case. A significant TV broadcast about Rahela's case is planned for October 29. Whether Rahela will get justice, only time will tell. But that single post by Manobi led to a level of activity in the society that was certainly unprecedented.
Manobi says in an email:
Now it feels like, Rahela is not abandoned, she is not forgotten. This ovewhelming response once again proves Humanity is the religion what we all follow.
I urge all the cyber activists of the world to raise your voices against the domestic violences of your communities and create more awareness on this subject. Sometimes all it takes is the power of one to bring about change.
(*name withheld on the request of the victim as she was blackmailed and forced to request us to omit the name)