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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A look back at the Human Rights situation in Bangladesh

Bangladesh lies between India and Myanmar in South Asia. It is a country with a vibrant society and a parliamentary democracy. The country’s population is around 158 million[1].

There are many fundamental aspects that define a state, such as: the country’s economic and political situation or as in this opinion piece will discuss the human right situation. As the quote in the beginning of the article states: “Human rights is a universal standard”.

The work of local civil society organisations is essential in human rights documentation as they are the frontline workers who advocate for promotion of human rights and they shed light to the stories of the victims and survivors.  

As an example, for the past couple of years the Ain O Salish Kendra (a legal aid and human rights organisation, hereinafter: ASK) has held an annual press conferences where they shared the main results of their annual reports on the human rights situation in Bangladesh. I base this analysis on information taken from ASK’s documentation of newspaper articles and their own sources reflecting human rights violations and articles reporting on the earlier mentioned press conferences. 

This year one of the news articles said that the human rights situation has worsened in 2015. The question immediately rises: Compared to what? 2014? Or is there a bigger picture which allows us to look back for years?

Between 2013 and 2015, several articles highlighted different areas of human rights which showed that every year another field showed dramatic changes. Based on their report in 2015, there were several areas where there were significant deterioration, for example: repression on religious minorities, freedom of expression, violence against women and political violence.  I would like to highlight the following areas:

Violence against women and children is showing a growing tendency, especially in the field of sexual harassments. From 2014 to 2015 there was almost a 40% growth in the cases of domestic violence. It is also important to mention that acid attacks (ca. 35 cases) were highlighted during the press conference in 2015.

In terms of communal violence there are great differences from year to year. In 2013, there were 278 houses attacked, burnt or destroyed and then next year the number of similar cases 761. However, in 2015 there was a significant decrease in the number of reported cases down to 104.

Based on available numbers it is clear that there are serious human rights violations which need to be addressed. The local human rights organisations like ASK work hard to gather information and data that can be presented for the general public and organisations on a national and/or international while also advocating for the improvement of the human rights situation.

Below you can find a table which includes data gathered from articles and ASK’s HR monitoring reports. 

Political Clashes
848 [i]
664 [ii]
Communal violence
Houses: 278
Businesses: 208
Temples: 495 [iv]
Houses: 761
Businesses: 193
Temples: 247[v]
Houses: 104
Businesses: N/A
Temples: 213[vi]
Violence against journalist
Deaths: 3
Assaults/ Harassments: 342[vii]
Deaths: 3
Assaults/ Harassments: 239[viii]
Deaths: 2
Assaults/ Harassments: 244[ix]
Violence Against Women
Rapes: 812
Deaths: 87
Domestic Violence: 385[x]
Sexual Harassment: 182[xi]
Acid attacks: 44[xii]

Rapes: 707[xiii]
Deaths: 68
Domestic Violence: 488[xiv]
Sexual Harassment: 146[xv]
Acid attacks: 48[xvi]

Rapes: 846[xvii]
Deaths: 60
Domestic Violence: 373[xviii]
Sexual Harassment: 205[xix]
Acid attacks: 35

Forced disappearances
Deaths in jail custody
Mob beatings (Deaths)


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