The research work is mainly about Women Rights. I discussed in it only present perspective of Bangladesh women. I found much weakness in basic rights of women, such as Dower, Maintenance, Inheritance, Guardianship of children, development in social activities and economic, where women rights being violate in every step.
Chapter – 1
Women are part and parcel of society. They are the nerve of the society. We cannot deny their role in the global society. We cannot imagine a body without a heart. Similarly it is not to think a societal improvement without the participation of the women with this view in mind our national poet quoted that the creation of the world whatever great and beneficial for human being are shared fifty by man and fifty percent women. In Bangladesh practical field of present twenty century they can’t live independently.
We know from Bangladesh bouro us of statistics BBS that almost 50% of population are women. So without the development and participation of women equal as men, our national development will be surely hampered.
Right is the power or privilege to which is entitled or a thing to which one has a just claim. Many different types of rights have been described. Many of them terns means such kind of right which deal women or females facility to get right proper life and right to get right to deal own economic political etc. Every women have right to get right to life, right to proper education, freedom of movement it is universal declaration for all women.
Something special opinion, women in the village work longer and harder than men folk caring for domestic animals the fields, tending children and cooking. All the boiling, drying and husking of paddy is exclusively women’s work.
House spent in household activities like caring for elderly relatives and the sick are not seen as since they do not earn money for the family. As farm labor, women yet roughly 40 percent of a men wage, according to reaches. Dr. Atiar Rahman, a research fellow of the Bangladesh intituation of development studies BIDS, has calculated in a reset study that women work 21 hours more in a week than men.
Similarly the UN children’s agency, UNJCKF, estimates that boys who not do not go to the school. Spend only 12 minutes on housework daily, while girls who have a doped out shoulder five hour off around the work.
1.2 Aim of the study
Women are favorite subjects of literature, and Bangladeshi women are no exception. The beauty and charm of Bangladeshi women are extolled in poems, legends and short stories. But the suffering of Bangladeshi women hardly comes out in the literature. Bangladeshi women endure oppression and deprivation in their own family, community or in the society at large. They are also subjected to violence and discrimination. In a large country like Bangladesh, with its socio-economic and legal systems biased against the poor and the women, Bangladeshi women are in difficult situation.
The discriminatory attitude against women, rooted in the family and extends to the State level, should be ended. Because of the constraints from the family, society and the State in general, Bangladeshi women are not aware of their rights. And even if some of them become aware of their rights, they still would not assert them due to the “ingrained unexpected continuity” (i.e., the traditional belief of keeping women under the shadow of somebody such as their fathers or husbands).
1.3 Importance of Study
Entitlements of women and girls of all ages are granted. These rights may or may not be institutionalized, ignored or suppressed by law, local custom, and behavior in a particular society. These liberties are grouped together and differentiated from broader notions of human rights because they often differ from the freedoms inherently possessed by or recognized for men and boys and because activists for this issue claim an inherent historical and traditional bias against the exercise of rights by women and girls.
Issues commonly associated with notions of women’s rights include, though are not limited to, the right: to bodily integrity and autonomy; to vote (universal suffrage); to hold public office; to work; to fair wages or equal pay; to own property; to education; to serve in the military or be conscripted; to enter into legal contracts; and to have marital, parental and religious rights. Women and their supporters have campaigned and in some places continue to campaign for the same rights as modern men.
1.4 Scope and Limitation of Study
This section of the report has listed some of major limitation, which the study has undergone. The finding of study should be consumed/utilized in light of the following limitations.
The study is based on attitude and opinion survey of some teacher, student and lawyer, the questionnaires were developed, and administered by MD. Borhan Uddin. The finding has inherent sampling errors and, therefore, cannot be generalized.
The evaluation of study have been attempted through opinion of respondents, not from general public and, therefore, mostlikely to reflect response bias. This is another important limitation of the study.
The study has very limited scope and encompasses the volunteer and staffs by me. I am use many NGOs which are related with these activate. The study does not take into consideration other parallel government as well as nongovernment organization working at the grass-roots areas with similar objective.
1.5 Methodology of Study
The methodology used in the thesis is Qualitative Methodology. Our research works are based on
1. Historical Study, and
2. Analytical Study.
1. Historical Study:
Woman’s Right is a accepted fact in Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR). It has a historical back ground of woman’s movement for the establishment of their rights. The woman’s movement becomes successful. Now the modern world, Modern state and United Nations Organization highlighted the woman in their dignity, honor, position, participation social work political activity etc.
In Bangladesh the Woman’s Right are guaranteed in their constitution, state laws, and social and state activities. Through the historical revolution the woman’s right has come to this position. The history woman’s movement started from 1971 after successful victory of the Bangladesh war of Independence. So, to write this thesis we have to use historical study.
2. Analytical Study:
In this thesis the formation development and solutions regarding woman’s right are to be discussed. In this process of analysis the laws related to the subject and solutions from the judicial process are to be discussed. The enforcement of woman’s right is judicial matter. So in this process of study the analytical study is necessary and important for this thesis. For our research works we followed the analytical study.
The main object of the study is to evaluate effects and importance on persons, society and the state. The study is mainly qualitative in nature because, the impact that the study has searched would not be possible to assess without qualitative data.
Legal issues, judicial rulings and administrative management of the government and the public, all are related with the issues. The research work is involved with the legal matter, administrative matter and judicial decision of the Woman’s Right. Under these circumstances a regulated research work will be suitable to solve the problems after investigating different variables such as laws relating to “A STUDY O WOMEN’S RIGHT”.
Normally researchers depend on different methodological approaches. Research method is an important factor for all kinds of study. There are two kinds of empirical research methods namely
- Qualitative Research Method,
- Quantitative Research method.
Research on “A STUDY O WOMEN’S RIGHT” a new admiration has emerged among the judicial persons, educators, sociologists, psychologists and public interest, lawyers, politicians, scientists and many others. Peaceful, legal, moral, ethical happy life in the society is the vital issue for the man kind. So considering all the above factors this research works utilizes the following methodologies –
- Case study method,
- Judicial method,
- Ground theory method.
- Sociological Method,
- Statistical Method.
Method used in this thesis:
The method is used in this dissertation is action oriented. The study has been conducted on the basis of two principal sources of data collection. These are:
- Primary Source,
- Secondary source.
The basic data has been collected from the administrative source, legislative laws and historical events. Other data has been collected from judicial rulings and affected person’s information. By focusing efforts on critical issues of authority concern, and the victim persons concern are the important sources of data collection.
2.1 Basic Concept of Women Rights
Muslim Women existing law is concerning women’s rights with respect to dower, maintenance and inheritance and the large gap between what is stated in law and what is practiced in Bangladesh. Women in Bangladesh seldom take full advantage of their rights; this is due to the fact that they are mostly ignorant of them. Even if they are aware of these rights their lower socio-economic status often prevents them from exercising those rights.
This stimulating book explores whether women in Bangladesh are deprived of their economic rights. This topic had been analysed in a sociological context. In fact, the topic of women’s status automatically demands a sociological approach. The book contains a lot of empirical studies, which are reprinted in order to provide an easy access to the reality of women’s problems and issues. This well researched and thought-provoking book is a most welcome addition to the growing literature on the subject.
2.2 In Sharia Muslim Woman’s Right
Muslim Women are focusing on the Sharia and women in a wider context in the global setting. Religion to legal reforms and to judicial activism, the book traces the factors contributing to women’s economic empowerment. By investigating the forces that protect and strengthen the position of women, the chapter then focuses on the standing of women in Bangladesh and examines a variety of aspects of legislation and judicial reform.
In terms of family laws and the personal law system, the state has retained the previous divisions of personal and general law, although the Constitution of Bangladesh (1972) seems to guarantee sexual equality. The inconsistency between the religious family law and the constitutional rights is depicted when women’s rights under the constitutional framework is analyzed. Analysis of the personal law system indicates how the Constitution ensures the personal law system to continue to survive although it is not in line with some basic principles of the Constitution.
2.3 Dower is the Muslim Woman’s Right:
Dower is giving the economic empowerment to Muslim Women. In order to provide proper emphasis to this economic right of women, the chapter clarifies the confusion of dowry with dower. In justifying the claims on dower the chapter ends by providing evidences from reported and unreported cases.
The issue of maintenance highlighting on the recent judgment on post-divorce maintenance and development of the Bangladeshi law after that. The legal connotations of Muslim wives regarding maintenance have also been reprinted to give a complete picture of the issue. In the end of the chapter evidences from reported and unreported cases on maintenance are provided.
2.4 Inheritance is the Muslim Woman’s Right
Inheritance of Muslim Sharia law and gives special reference to women. The chapter then provides a socio-legal perspective of the issue by reprinting two studies. The first study, through tapping the resources of inheritable entitlements, searches for security and poverty alleviation of women. The second study deals with economic transformation of women through enforcement of family law. Providing evidences from reported unreported cases, the chapter ends, justifying the claims on inheritance.
There is a wide gap between the theory of religious and official family laws, intimately connected with the lives of women, and practical application in society. For example, women hardly receive their rights of inheritance, dowers remain unpaid and there is a distinct gap between women’s maintenance rights and actual practice. Also as stated in the book, “Why should Muslim women, who are supposed to be protected by dower, become victims of dowry?
The Muslim Women attempts to highlight these issues and recommend how these gaps in law and practice can be narrowed, although it is not feasible to absolutely close the gap by the law.
Another aspect highlighted in the book was the consideration of an out-of-court settlement. This is an informal dispute resolution through Shalish as provided by the legal aid centers. In Bangladesh the local arbitration or Shalish on women is recognised by the Family Courts. There are many voluntary legal aid centres in Bangladesh. These not only give women opportunities to have judicial redress, but also legal literacy, Shalish and mediation. The drawback of the Shalish, through the legal aid, is that it does not have the same sanction or authority as the Family Courts. The parties may simply avoid appearing. Also at times, the alternative of these legal aid services means that women are given considerably lesser remedies than the Family Courts would grant. The accused may escape punishment.
These alternative structures of justice could give practical remedies to women. “The most significant and positive impact of applying mediation as an ADR mechanism through the Family Courts is that the monetary claims of dower and maintenance have reimbursed in huge amount through amicable settlement in these recent years in comparison to that of the earlier periods.”
I am tries to convey the message that if the judiciary is more sensitised about the particular needs of women it will be able to protect women more effectively. It also urges for a better implementation of the existing legal rights of women. This carried out at all levels would secure for women, freedom from economic deprivation, which is at this time required.
Some judicial decisions are remarkably enlightened; this is seen as a departure from the patriarchal mould. As stated in the book, “These decisions signify concern of the higher courts not only about giving general emphasis on women’s rights but also about the need to protect women from cruel treatment and deliberate economic deprivation”. However, there are also many judgments in which the courts are interpreting the legislation only on the basis of orthodox concepts, failing to give effect to the underlying social purpose of the convention or legislation.
3.1 Legal status of Muslim Woman
The legal status of the Muslim women in Bangladesh is defined by the principles of Sharia through Muslim Personal Law along with the general law which is non-religious and secular in its character. The Muslim personal law covers the field of marriage, divorce, maintenance, guardianship of children and inheritance whereas the general law covers the rights under the Constitution, penal codes, the civil and criminal procedure codes, evidence act etc.
It is necessary to examine the legal status of the Muslim women in Bangladesh in the context of these two sets of law as in both cases women are supposedly fortified with theoretical legal rights, but there is a gulf of difference existing between theory and its actual application. Most important of all, it must be seen that some of these laws though excellent in theory prove largely elusive in practice. The main hurdle that lies in the way of the practical application of the legal rights of women in Bangladesh is obviously the inherent contradiction of attitude that permeates the male oriented society considerably supported by religious beliefs. In this discussion, however, I shall mainly refer to those statutes or those provisions of a statute which treat men and women differently.
Matters not covered herein after should be understood to have egalitarian principles giving women the same rights and obligations as the men. Let us discuss the legal rights of Muslim women in Bangladesh
Before going onto specific rights we must know that the large majority of people in Bangladesh are Muslims and of these most are Hanafi.
Muslims while an only small minority of them belongs to any other sects. Thus in general when a point is made about the law relating to Muslims it will be referring to the law which governs the majority. Therefore, we should note that historically the provisions we regard as provisions of pure Islamic Law are to a large extent Qur’anic utterances which were applied to the reformation of the pre-Islamic Arabian customary law. (Salma Sobhan, p10). According to Fyzee, “The Qur’anic reform came as a super-structure upon the ancient tribal laws: it corrected many of the social and economic inequalities then prevalent.”
Fazlur Rahman also makes the same point, “Whereas the spirit of the Qur’anic legislation exhibits an obvious direction towards the progressive embodiment of the fundamental human values…nonetheless the actual legislation of the Qur’an had partly to accept the then existing society as a term of reference.”
We should also note further that these laws in the sub-continent have been modified in many cases not only by Statute and by custom but also by case law.
The other important point to remember is that though Qur’an has immensely improved the status of women in several directions, society as a whole maintained the inequalities that still remained. Not only that, though over the course of years some disparities were modified by different laws, custom has sometimes been strong enough to militate against the Qur’anic rule of law. There is, therefore, no reason to suppose that all the rules that we are going to consider were meant to be definitive for all times. Now let us return to the specific laws.
3.2 Succession and Right to property.
Muslim law of inheritance has two distinct elements, namely, the customs of ancient Arabia and the rules laid down by the Qur’an and prophet Mohammad. Under the customary law of pre-Islamic Arabia the women in whatever capacity were excluded from inheritance. The Qur’an made quite a considerable change of the position.
According to the Muslim Law there are three kinds of heirs
(i) “sharers” who are entitled to a prescribed share of the inheritance,
(ii) “residuaries” who take on prescribed share, but succeed to the residue left after satisfying the claims of the sharers, and
(iii) “distant kindreds” who are blood relations other than the sharers and residuaries, and succeed generally in the absence of sharers and residuaries. In the classification of the heirs, it is important to note that though the son’s son and son’s daughter have been made residuary and sharer respectively, daughter’s children have been made distant kindred.
The principles of succession among the sharers and residuaries are two-fold :-
- The nearest in blood relationship excluded the remote one and
- Whoever is related to the deceased through any person shall not inherit while the person is living.
Under the Muslim Law, the wife (or wives taken together) get one-eighth if there is child, and one fourth if there be no child from the estate of her husband, though the husband gets exactly double. Mother gets from the estate of her sons one-sixth when there is child of her son or when there are two or more brothers or sisters or one brother and one sister of her son, and one third when there is no child and not more than one brother or sister of her son. On the other hand, the father gets from the estate of his son one-sixth if there be child of his son and in the absence of any child of his son; he gets the entire residue after satisfying other sharers claim, and so on and so forth. (8) It is significant that the Qur’an has provided that daughter, mother and wife would under all circumstances be entitled to some share in the inheritance and are not liable to exclusion from inheritance, but they are not treated at par with their male counterparts, i.e. son, father and husband and to this extent rules of inheritance are discriminatory. Women in fact were not given parity in the matter of their shares and as a general rule, the female is given one-half the share of the male. Salma Sobhan writes, since “the Koran is to be likened to an “amending act” rather an exhaustive code… in the changed society there is little reason to perpetuate this distinction.”
The case of sister’s inheritance is equally discriminatory. According to the rule of nearer in relationship excluding the remoter in relationship, children of a pre-deceased son or daughter would not inherit if a person died leaving another son. This often rendered the child or child of pre-deceased child destitute. This inequity, however, has been removed by Muslim Family Laws ordinance, 1961.
Which provides that the children of the predeceased child would inherit the share which the pre-deceased children would have inherited had he or she been alive. But the widow of a predeceased son remains as helpless as before as she does not inherit anything of this ordinance.
3.3 Marriage, divorce and connected matters
Marriage in Islam is a contract and every Muslim of sound mind who has attained puberty may enter into a contract of marriage. Puberty is presumed, in the absence of evidence, when one reaches the age of 15 years, but this presumption is refutable.
Until the age of puberty, a minor may be given in marriage by his or her guardian and though this is in fact against the provisions of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, such a marriage even under that Act would not be void. Under the Sharia Hanafi, a girl given in marriage below the age of puberty can repudiate that marriage after she attained it and up to the age of 18 provided the marriage was not consummated. By statute puberty is no longer relevant and girl given in marriage below the age of 16 can repudiate the marriage either on the attaining of 16 years, or puberty, where she was married before puberty. Since according to the Sharia a girl is free from guardianship at puberty and by the time she is 13 this is assumed, the law presents another anomaly in that a girl can give herself in marriage if she wishes below the age of 16, if she has attained puberty and the marriage would be valid though the person officiating and the groom himself where he was over 18 would be liable for punishment under the Child Marriage Restraint Act.
Though a minor may be given in marriage, no minor may contract herself in marriage during her minority and any such marriage would be held to be void.
Where a minor has been given in marriage and marriage has been consummated before puberty such consummation does not operate to deprive the minor of the option to repudiate after puberty. However there appears no provision for explaining or informing the minor of this right either at the time of her marriage or when she attains puberty. It would further appear that even in cases where a girl was given in marriage before puberty, she attained puberty or say the age of 14 1/2 years and subsequently the marriage was consummated, she should have the right under statute to repudiate the marriage after she was 16 provided there were no further acts of consummation between the period of her 16th or 18th years.
A Muslim male can contract valid marriage with a Muslim as also with a Ketabi (Jew or Christian). But his marriage with an idolatress will be irregular. On the other hand, A Muslim woman may not contract a valid marriage with any one else but a Muslim. A marriage with a Christian or a Jew would be irregular while a marriage with a Hindu would be invalid (that is any children born would be illegitimate). It simply means that while a man may marry someone who is not his “social equal” a woman should be protected against such marriages. A Muslim male can take four wives at a time, but a Muslim woman cannot take more than one husband. Even a male marries having already four wives; the fifth marriage is not void, but only irregular. Though Islamic Law vastly improved the then status of woman, the idea of woman being a property could not be altogether thrown away as can be found from the permissibility of plurality of wives.
However, realizing the evil effects of and the injustice inherent in the polygamy of men Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 was passed. Sec.6 of the Ordinance provides that no man, during the subsistence of existing marriage, shall contract another marriage without prior written permission of Arbitration Council and violation of this provision entails liability of conviction and punishment.
The Arbitration Council while dealing with an application for permission to marry during the subsistence of a marriage would consider whether the existing wife consents to such marriage and whether it is necessary and just to grant the permission. But this legislation failed to produce the desired result because due to protracted procedure in courts few inclined to bring violations to court and because the Arbitration Council being manned by males very often were not un-willing to accord permission on the slightest pretexts. The law did not make adequate provision to control the discretion of the Arbitration council.
By Bengal Act N°.1 of 1876 provision was made for registration of Muslim marriages, but registration under this Act was optional. Muslim Family Laws Ordinance 1961 made the registration compulsory and enjoined the Kazi on pain of punishment to report solemnization of marriage to marriage registrar so that the marriage may be registered. Similar provisions have been made by Muslim Marriages and Divorces Act, 1974.
One of the essential parts of Muslim marriage is “dower” paid or promised to be paid by the husband to the wife. Dower must not, however be confused with “dowry” which consists of presents made by father and other relations of the bride and Muslim Law does not make any provision for payment of dowry. Dower is the sum of money or other property which the wife is entitled to receive from the husband in consideration of marriage. The amount of dower may be fixed either before or at the time of marriage of after marriage. The law does not say anything about the quantum of dower. The amount of dower is generally split into two parts- “prompt dower” which is payable immediately on demand by the wife and “deferred dower” which is payable only on dissolution of marriage by death or divorce. In view of the provisions of Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, the entire amount is now to be treated as “prompt”. The claim to dower is not lost even when the marriage is dissolved by Court at the instance of the wife or when the wife exercises the right to divorce.
It is in the field of divorce that the most flagrant inequality between husband and wife exists. The husband has the right of unilateral divorce, for no cause at all. The wife has no such right, and when her husband exercises his right, the wife has no redress. The women can have judicial separation on specified grounds through intervention of Court. The Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961 though has already provided for arbiters, the arbitration council cannot prevent the talaq by the husband even if it be highly arbitrary and unjust and can only delay the action in the hope that some conciliation will result.
The most common mode of divorce by man prevalent in Bangladesh is (Bedai Talak) which takes effect immediately without the requirement of communication to the wife for its validity. The husband pronounces three times that he divorces his wife and with the third pronouncement the Talak becomes irrevocable and takes effect on completion of a certain period. This may also be done by writing on a piece of paper. Once this right was exercised the parties could not re-marry without the intervention of another marriage, i.e. unless the wife was married to a third person and then divorced after consummation of the marriage. With the introduction of the Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961, the position has changed. Section 7 of the Ordinance provides that Divorce given by the husband shall not take effect until the husband has given notice of the Divorce to the chairman of local administrative unit, Union Parishad and ninety days have elapsed after issuance of the said notice and within the said period the husband can revoke the Divorce. The husband is also to give a copy of the said notice to the wife.
The Chairman on receipt of the notice would constitute Arbitration Council for effecting a reconciliation which, if successful, would render the divorce ineffective. It is an offence not to notify the Chairman about exercise of Divorce by the husband. The provisions of Sec. 7 of the Ordinance apply mutates mutandis in case of divorce exercised by the wife and the divorce does not take effect unless notice thereof is given to the Chairman and 90 days have elapsed thereafter.
The husband can delegate his power of divorce to his unconditionally or with condition and that is called Talak-e-Tawfeez. When any condition is stipulated the wife can divorce her husband in the happening of that condition. Now the divorced parties can remarry without the formality of the marriage with third party.
Muslim marriage can be dissolved by agreement between the husband and wife and it may take the force of Khula or Mubarrat. In Khula, the marriage is dissolved by an agreement between the parties for a consideration paid, or to be paid, by the wife to the husband, it being necessary condition that the desire to separate should come from the wife. Where desire to the separation is mutual, it is said to be Mubarat. A wife is entitled to Khula as of right or restoration of what she had received in consideration of marriage, if she satisfies the conscience of the court that it will otherwise mean forcing her into a hateful union. As stated above, a Muslim female does not have the right to divorce in the way a mal-e has, but she could seek judicial divorce on grounds permitted by Muslim Law. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939, was passed in order to consolidate and to clarify those grounds and also to add some new grounds.
A wife is entitled to obtain a judicial divorce on neglect or failure of the husband to provide maintenance for two years. But if the wife refuses herself to her husband without any lawful excuse and deserts her husband, or otherwise willfully fails to perform her marital duties, she has no right to claim maintenance and cannot obtain a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of nonpayment of maintenance. The fact that the wife is a woman of means would not be a defence to the claim of judicial divorce for non-payment of maintenance. A Muslim woman can obtain judicial divorce on any ground recognised by Muslim Law. Thus a wife is entitled to judicial divorce if the husband brings false charge of adultery against her unless the husband bonafide retracts the charge of adultery. To constitute a valid retraction, it must be made before the commencement of the hearing of the suit, it must be bonafide and there must be an admission by the husband about making the charge and an unconditional acknowledgement by him that the charge is false. Incompatibility of temperament as results in a hateful union has been accepted as a ground for seeking judicial divorce. Before the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act 1939 apostasy from Islam of either party operated as a complete and immediate dissolution of marriage. After passing of the Act, apostasy from Islam of the wife does not dissolve the marriage (Sec.4 of the Act) while apostasy of the husband dissolves the marriage immediately. (Mulla.P.305)
In accordance with Muslim Law, the father is bound to maintain his daughter until she is married (Mulla). The fact that the mother has the custody of the daughter till the latter attains puberty does not relieve the father of his obligation to maintain the daughter (Mulla). If the father is poor, but the mother is in easy circumstances, the mother has the obligation to maintain the daughter (Mulla). But a father is not bound to maintain a daughter who is capable of being maintained out of her own property.
A Muslim mother is entitled to maintenance from her son if she is poor or if the son is financially solvent (Mulla). A Muslim husband is bound to maintain his wife so long the wife remains faithful to him and obeys his reasonable orders. If the wife refuses herself to her husband without any lawful excuse and deserts her husband or otherwise willfully fails to perform her marital obligations she has no right to claim maintenance from the husband. But if the wife refuses to perform her marital obligations on the failure of the husband to pay the prompt dower the husband will not be absolved of his liability to maintain his wife (Mulla).
A Muslim woman in the event of divorce is entitled to maintenance by the husband till the expiry of the period of Iddat. A Muslim male maintains his daughter as best as his means permit and a husband also maintains his wife to the best of his ability so long the relationship remains good, but if the relationship is estranged, the condition of the wife is very difficult. The social milieu and cumbersome court procedure made it difficult for the wife to have maintenance through Court. Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 tried to evolve a procedure through which the wife can easily have her remedy, but it has not produced any appreciable improvement. The Family Courts Ordinance, 1985, however, has been promulgated to deal with divorce and related matters and provisions have been made to dispose the cases of within the shortest time possible.
A Muslim widow is essentially dependent on her son, for, generally even her share in the property of her husband remains in the hands of the son and ironically enough, her fate depends upon the attitude of the daughter-in-law. But if the widow has no son to depend upon the relations of the husband; her condition in most cases is miserable.
3.5 Guardianship of children
In the matter of guardianship of children, a Muslim woman is definitely at odds. Under Muslim Law, the mother is entitled only to the custody of the person of her minor child up to a certain age according to the sex of the child. But she is not the natural guardian either of the person or property of the child; the father alone, or if he is dead, his executor is the legal guardian. Some jurist points out “In Islam a careful distinction is made between being entitled to the custody of one’s children and being their guardian one would be tempted to compare the difference between these two concepts to the difference between possession and ownership. In any event, in Muslim Law, the mother is never entitled to the guardianship of her children.
However, a mother is always entitled in the first instance to the care and custody of her young children. Her sons she may keep till they are seven, and her daughters till puberty. The father is responsible for their maintenance during that period. A mother may lose custody of her children, particularity her daughters, if she re-marries a stranger, someone that is, who is not barred to the children by the rule of consanguinity. These are the basic rules, but they have been modified, not only by the Guardian and Wards Act, but there is also a fairly substantial amount of case-law on the subject, which on the whole has been very sane. ”
It is laid down by the Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 that the courts have stated that these provisions are for the benefit and protection of the child, and that it is the courts paramount duty to consider the welfare of the children over the rights of the parents.
According to Some jurists again stated that, “Thus remarriage of the mother outside the permitted degrees has not been held an absolute reason for depriving her of the custody of her children. The children having been all along in the custody ceased, it was still considered advisable to let them continue in her care and control, as the father had re-married and it was felt that the children’s interests would not be so well looked after by their stepmother. The father is only free from the burden of maintaining his children where they are being withheld from him illegally. The mother’s poverty is never a sufficient reason to deprive her of her right to the custody of her children.”
Under the Guardian and Wards Act, further, a mother can always apply to the court to be appointed the guardian of her children.
On the basis of the above discussion, probably it is a bit too strong to say that the law actively, in all spheres, denigrates women, but it certainly does not elevate them. Discussing the law of maintenance of wives under Muslim Law, Naimuddin Ahmed writes, 2 In Bangladesh, the law, as it is, cannot probably rescue Muslim wives from, first, being abandoned and then being divorced and left with a life-time of indigence by arbitrary, capricious and whimsical husbands.”
The weakness in the Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961 is that not only is the second marriage not made void, but that the right of unilateral divorce is not effectively curbed, so that any woman opposing her husband’s remarrying, in a system where there is no alimony for a divorced woman, and where she will rarely have been given an appropriate education to enable her to earn her own living, runs the risk of destitution. It is true that the social attitude contributes to this dismal state of affaires, but the situation can considerably be improved by reform of law.
When the Constitution professes equality of women with men, the need to review and revise the law to ensure fundamental rights to equality hardly requires any emphasis. Not only that he law should be revised, but its enforcement should be made easy, speedy and similar so that the women can get some benefit out of whatever the law is offering. Unless the law itself along with the procedure for its enforcement is changed, the position of Muslim women in Bangladesh will continue to remain subject to such humiliating condition because of erroneous concept of law, of women’s position in society and also of humanity as a whole.
It may be mentioned here that the various women’s organisations, namely the Mahila Parishad, Women’s Lawyers’ Association and the Committee for Resistance to Violence to Women and Social Injustices are working seriously towards reformation of Law as well as speedy adjudication of the same. One of the results of long struggles of women in Bangladesh is the promulgation of the Family Courts Ordinance, 1985, the Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance 1983 and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980.
Women are being more and more conscious about their religious, social, economic, political as well as legal position and are showing quite a considerable interest in working towards a more egalitarian and just situation.
4.1 Its affect on the empowerment of muslim women
The Mahr/Dower is something that is paid by the husband to his wife. It is paid to the wife only as an honour and respect and to show that he has a serious desire to marry her and is not simply entering into the marriage contract without any sense of responsibility and obligation or effort on his part. It is also a provision for her rainy days and socially it became a check on the capricious exercise by the husband of his unlimited power of divorce. Dowry is a new phenomenon for the Muslim communities in Bangladesh, with enlarged effects after independence. For the Hindu community also, its impact was not so widespread before liberation.
Some authors in Bangladesh are claiming that dowry has become an essential criterion for marriage in every community and is near universal in Bangladeshi society. The simple gesture of jamai ador or special affection shown to the bridegroom has been transformed to the shape of daabi or demand by the bridegrooms. Even poor men are taking this chance of exploiting the bride’s family to improve their fate from poverty and unemployment. This is making marriage a commercial transaction, giving more value to property and money than the bride herself.
4.2 The right of Dower(Mahorana)
Allah says in the Quran:
“Wa aatoo an-nisaa’a saduqaatihinna nihlatan… And give the women their dower with a good heart… ”
This verse is addressed to the husband because it is their responsibility to pay the dower. This verse shows that the dower must be given to the wife and should not be given to the guardians. There are other verse which shows the obligation to pay dower to the wife.
Regarding dower there are 3 different views. One is that in its incidents it is similar to Donatio propter Nupteas of the Romans. Second that it is given by the husband to the wife as a mark of respect; and Third that it is a device to control the unfettered power of the husband to divorce his wife. According Islamic law where there is a marriage there is a dower. It is a bridal gift. It is a token of respect to the bride.
4.3 Laws on Dower
Prompt Dower becomes payable immediately after the marriage and must be paid on demand. The wife claiming the prompt dower stands as an unsecured creditor. If the prompt dower is not paid she could refuse to stay with her husband and also can take legal action. In Nuruddin Ahmed v. Masuda Khanam it was held that prompt dower may be considered a debt always due and able to be demanded and payable upon demand. The wife is under the Muslim law entitled to refuse herself to her husband until and unless the prompt dower is paid.
Where the wife felt that possible way to win or retain the affection of her husband was to act on his suggestion and to remit the dower. It was held that she did not act as a free agent and it would be inequities to hold that a woman who remits dower in such circumstances is bound by it.
It was held in the case of Rahim Jan v. Md. that the wife can refuse to live with her husband if dower is not paid on her demand and consummation does not affect this right of the wife. But after cohabitation, the proper course for the court is to pass a decree for restitution of conjugal rights conditional on payment of prompt dower this was held in the leading case of Anis Begum v. Md. Istafa Wali Khan.
In Rabia Khatoon v. Muktar Ahmad It was held that the right of refusing herself is lost on consummation. Thus if the husband files a suit for restitution of conjugal rights before consummation nonpayment of prompt dower is a complete defence.
Deferred Dower becomes payable at the termination on dissolution or marriage either by death or divorce. If by divorce than dower can be recovered by compromise or suing in the family court. If by death than dower can be recovered from her husband’s estate / compromise / suing.
Islamic law does not fix any maximum amount of dower, but makes it obligatory for the husband to pay whatever amount has been specified and whatever amount is assessed if not specified. Fixing of excessive amounts of dower is being used in South Asia as a means to control and check the husband’s unilateral and unlimited power of divorce, as he has to pay the full amount of dower at the time of divorce. But it also acts as a status matter, in which case there is not intention to pay the stipulated amount in full. Attempts have been made to curb the fixation of excessive amounts of dower in India which go against the interests of Muslim women, but no similar provision has been made in Pakistan or later in Bangladesh. There has been some confusion over dower and dowry after the Dowry and Briadal Gifts (Restriction) Act of 1976 in Pakistan, but this has now been clarified.
4.4 The real scenario
It was found in a study of the metropolitan city of Dhaka that 88% of Muslim wives did not receive any dower at all. If this is the situation in the capital city, one can anticipate an alarming situation in the rural remote areas. Why are women not receiving their legal right of dower? To inquire into this one has to probe into the causes for not giving dower. Here the same causes for which the women in Bangladesh are being subordinated come in, as women are dominated in the patriarchal family and in the wider socio-religious arena. What needs to be ascertained here, in particular, seems to be whether the women’s right to dower is being enlarged or reduced by local customary conventions.
4.5 Defining dowry
There is considerable debate what constitutes dowry in its various forms. The confusion is more acute as in the societal context dowry is differently defined than in anti-dowry law. In a patriarchally dominated social context dowry refers to property given to the bridegroom and his family but the anti-dowry law regards it as the exclusive property of the bride. The modern phenomenon of dowry, property given or agreed to be given to the bridegroom or his relatives, does not tally with the earlier concepts of bride-price and with the customary concepts of giving property to the bride herself.
Dowry and bride price have received substantial attention in the anthropological literature. In fact, there is now a large volume of ethnographic and theoretical literature on dowry and bride-price. Much of this literature concerns the problems of the wide-spread switch from bride-price to dowry as marriage pre- stations.
4.6 Outgrowth of dowry
The modern phenomenon of dowry in South Asia is its abuse as an inducement for a man to marry a woman or, with the same effect, demands of dowry payments by a man or his family. The result is a tendency to regard it as a groom-price, which is distinguished from the traditional kanyadan (gift of the virgin) or bride-wealth. This modern feature of dowry means the transmission of large sums of money, jewellery, cash, and other goods from the bride’s family to the groom’s family. The emergence of dowry and the switch from brideprice have been explained by some authors as the cause of the decline of the earning capabilities and productivity of women. According to this view the system of dowry is closely linked with women’s role in productive activities. Where women are regarded as an unproductive burden, a dowry is given to the bridegroom’s side to compensate them. However, the present spread of dowry cannot be explained only with variables like non-participation of women in economic activity.
4.7 The confusions
The dowry system is not recognised in the religion or the law of the Muslim societies but has spread into it. Conversely, Islamic law provides dower to enhance the status of women. Why should Muslim women, who are supposed to be protected by dower, become victims of dowry? It is important to note that until now authors confuse dower with dowry. Perhaps the aspect of women’s property or stridhanam in Hindu law and dower as the exclusive property of the wife are seen as synonymous. When dowry is regarded as stridhanam or pre-mortem inheritance for women, contradictions arise and the equation of dowry with stridhanam has been disputed by several authors. They argue that the situation is absolutely reverse, as dowry is not a gift to the wife or her exclusive property but the property of her in-laws. The anti-dowry law stated that property given as dowry belongs to the wife but later on amended the law. However, the misconceptions still lingers on that she has been paid dowry than why should she be a part and parcel of the succession?
Thus, the recent emergence of dowry among Bangladeshi Muslims is more due to simple greed and comer canalization of marriage than the impact of traditional culture, the urge of hypergamy and the undermining of the women’s productive role. The impact of men coming into contact with a wider cash economy by going abroad has also been shown to be a significant variable for their raised expectations in marriage.
4.8 Curse of dowry
Dowry deaths are a common phenomenon in South Asia. These deaths of women are usually caused by the same persons who are legally and socially supposed to protect them, i.e. their husband or in-laws. It has been rightly pointed out that dowry deaths are gruesome reminder of the authoritativeness of patriarchy. In one study, dowry demands have been identified as one of the major causes of murder of women in Bangladesh. The authors have established their finding by a table gathered from different media sources, showing that almost 50% of all murders of women in Bangladesh in the years 1983-1984 were for dowry causes.
4.9 Laws on dowry
India was first in South Asia to make an attempt to control the dowry problem by passing the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961. Subsequently, Pakistan made relevant legislative enactments, which significantly were only applicable for the Western wing of the country. After independence in Bangladesh the problems of dowry became so horrendous that activist women and some enlightened males were demanding legislation to stamp out this social evil. It was not considered right to treat women as a commodity to be transferred in marriage for consideration of property and money when the religious and official family laws did not regard women as chattels. Moreover, the Constitution of Bangladesh apparently provides sexual equality. The commodisation of women was seen as neo-patriarchy, which should not be tolerated any longer. Under such pressure, the government passed the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1980.
The real need of women in Bangladesh is to be protected from violence and economic deprivation. Dowry problems involve both aspects of the need, i.e. freedom from economic deprivation and violence. Demands for reforms to control these problems were already made earlier and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1980 and the Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance, 1983 were enacted in response to growing evidence of cruelty against women. Recently a more comprehensive enactment (the Repression Against Women and Children (Special Enactment) Act xviii of 1995 has repealed the Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance, 1983 and enhanced the punishment. More recently The Women and Children Repression Prevention (Special Provision) Act 2000 exaggerated punishments in most cases upto death penalty for crime against women and children. We need to assess whether these legislation has been beneficial to women and seek to find out whether women are actually able to use the legal remedies available under these new statutes.
4.10 Concluding remarks
Dowry deaths are a common phenomenon in South Asia. These deaths of women are caused by the same persons who are legally and socially enjoined to protect them, i.e. their husbands or in- laws. It has been rightly pointed out that the dowry deaths are a gruesome reminder of the authoritativeness of patriarchy. Legislation and other NGO intervention cannot stamp out this social evil unless there is a shift in the attitude of the people of South Asia.
As the roots of the problem of dowry appear to be social, remedies can only be achieved by changes of attitude in society; this can be attempted by legislation, but will need to be supported by education and legal awareness. The parents of a bride should understand that by giving dowry they may not be giving their daughter any happiness; it has been claimed that it is only increasing her misfortune. The parents of the bride are not in fact giving the dowry to their daughter but to their son-in-law and his family; this increases greed for more dowry. Parents should rather safeguard their daughters from economic deprivation and violence by educating them about their rights within marriage as the dower right.
5.1 Development of women rights in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a parliament democracy, with broad powers exercised by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, leader of the Awami League, was Prime Minister until parliament’s term of office expired in mid-July. A caretaker government was installed in accordance with constitution procedures and overview the national elections. Prime Minister Khalada Zia, the leader of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), came to power in election on october1 deemed to be free and fair by international observer. Political campaigns and the October election took place in a climate of sporadic violence and isolated irregularities. All of the major parties have frequently boycotted parliament while in the opposition, claiming that they had little opportunity to engage in real debate of legislation and national issues. The higher level of the government; however, lower judicial officers full under the executive, and are reluctant to challenge government decisions. The official secrets Act of 1923 can protect corruption government officials from public scrutiny, hindering the transparency and accountability of the government at all levels.
The Home affairs ministry controls the police and paramilitary forces, which have primary responsibility for internal security. Primarily due to the police’s accountability to the executive, police often are reluctant to pursue investigations against persons affiliated with the ruling party. The government frequently uses the police for political purposes. There is widespread police corruption and lack of discipline. Police officers committed numerous serious human rights abuses and were seldom disciplined, even for the most egregious actions.
Bangladesh is very poor country, occasionally beset by natural disasters that further hamper development. Annual per capita income among the population of approximately 19.2 million is approximately $380; the economic growth rate during the last fiscal year was approximately 6 percent. Slightly more than half of all children are chronically malnourished. Approximately 65 percent of the work force is involved in agriculture, which accounts for for one-fourth of the gross domestic product. The economic is market based, but the government owns all utilities, most transport companies, and many large manufacturing and distribution firms. Small, wealthy elite controls much of the private economy, but there is an emerging middle class. Foreign investment has increased significantly in the gas sector and in electrical power generation facilities.
Bangladesh’s estimated over 150 million inhabitants are 90 percent Muslim. The country has a secular legal system, though on issues of inheritance and marriage, Muslims follow Sharia law.
“To bring changes to the narrow political culture, 33 percent women’s representation must be ensured by any means,” said Ayesha Khanam, president of the National Women’s Association, ”the government will initiate a process to abolish all laws that discriminate against women”
According to Sultana Kamal, a former adviser to the government and now head of the Centre for Law and Arbitration, a legal aid non-governmental organisation (NGO), the NWDP failed to mention anything about the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the uniform family code, or the equal right of women to inherit property.Women in different religions get different shares of properties – equal in some religions and less in others. Our demand was to formulate a uniform family code giving women equal rights. The issue was not made clear in the policy.
Women have been more politically stable in the last two decades. A quota has ensured women’s presence in the local government and National Parliament. Among women politicians, the older group entered politics through social work, while some among them and the new generation of have emerged from student politics. Despite many odds, statistics and analyses reveal a slowly growing trend towards women’s political participation. However, they face an ominous challenge. There has also been a growing influence of money in Bangladesh politics, particularly in electoral politics and in guarding/promoting spheres of influence. This acts as a further constraint on women’s political participation since fewer women have access to financial resources. It is very difficult for women to work effectively in this system unless such practices are eradicated.
5.3 Political Parties
Party affiliation depends on membership drives and on the organizational and electoral needs of each party. The actual number of women members in different political parties, however, cannot be determined, since gender-specific records are not maintained. Nevertheless, a slow trend towards women’s greater participation has emerged over the decade. As party workers, women render valuable contributions in the mobilization of voters, especially among other women. Although there are only a few women in leadership positions, their numbers have increased over the last two decades. There is limited female involvement in party hierarchical structures. However, women occupy the top leadership positions in each of the two largest parties. They became leaders during crisis periods and have been successful as driving forces and unifying factors of their respective parties. Significantly, neither of them inherited the mantle of leadership when their party was in power. Once placed in the position of leadership, they were able to generate their own dynamics and momentum to lead their parties through difficult times. Nevertheless, their close and inner circle of advisors mostly consists of men. In occupying the role of a leader in public life, they have perhaps contributed to liberalizing values in a predominantly Muslim culture where traditionally men had exclusive prerogative in politics. They played a crucial role toward democratization and brought about a certain degree of continuity into the political process. They have a strong potential to be positive role models for women of all ages in Bangladesh, provided they demonstrate a commitment to gender equity by involving more women in their parties and in government. The election manifestos and constitutions of different political parties reveal that there is little emphasis on gender equality in party platforms.
5.4 Electoral process
Although women do not hold key positions during the electoral process, they render significant contributions during election campaigns by taking part in organizing public meetings, processions, and rallies. Women leaders and party workers engage in the task of mobilizing and canvassing voters, particularly women, for their party candidates. By making special arrangements such as separate election booths for women, and females presiding as polling officers, the turnout rate of women voters has increased. During the general elections of 1991 and 1996, and local level elections in 1993 and 1997, the level of enthusiasm among women to exercise their voting rights was very encouraging. Because of the special arrangements and security measures taken by the Government, there were few disturbances and the presence of women in polling centers was significant.
5.5 Local Government
Women were first elected to local bodies in 1973. The Union Parishad Election of 1997 is a milestone in the history of political empowerment of women in Bangladesh. The Government of Bangladesh enacted a law for direct elections to reserve seats for women in local level elections. In 1997 through an Act, the Government reserved three seats for women in the union parishad where women members are elected from each of the three respective wards. Apart from the reserved seats women can also contest for any of the general seats. Previously, the process of selection of the women representatives was on the basis of nominations and/or indirect election. Around 12,828 women were elected as members in the 1997 local level elections. A total of 20 and 110 women were elected as chairpersons and members, respectively, for general seats. The Government has already issued different executive orders to ensure women members’ participation in various decision-making committees.
The majority of women representatives regularly attended parishad meetings, but only a few of them participated in the deliberations and decisions. The female representatives usually involved themselves with mass education, family planning, immunization, handicrafts, relief activity, and shalish (mediation in the village court). The women representatives have the potentials to become change agents for rural women and various NGOs. A few government institutions such as the National Institute of Local Government are training women on various development-related issues, legal aid, and organizational structure of local bodies and their roles and functions to enable them play their role effectively.
5.6 Cabinet and Public Services
Although two women Prime Ministers have headed the Government during the last six years and the leaders of the opposition in Parliament were also women, this does not reflect the gender composition of participation and decision making at the highest policy level. At the ministerial level, women’s representation has never risen above 3 percent.
Before 1996, women were never given full responsibility over any important ministry. Apart from being Prime Minister, others were state or deputy ministers responsible for insignificant ministries such as Culture, Social Welfare, and Women. Currently one woman Minister, who had become a Member of Parliament in 1991 and 1996 through direct elections, is responsible for a ministry, i.e., Agriculture. Another woman minister is responsible for the Ministry of Forest and Environment.
5.7 Violence against Women
Violence against women is difficult to quantify because of unreliable statistics, but recent reports indicated that domestic violence is widespread. A report released by the U.N. Population Fund in September asserted that 47 percent of adult women report physical abuse by their male partner. The Government, the media, and women’s rights organizations have fostered a growing awareness of the problem of violence against women.
Much of the violence against women is related to disputes over dowries. According to a human rights group, there were 81 dowry-related killings during the year. Human rights groups and press reports indicate that incidents of vigilantism against women–sometimes led by religious leaders–at times occur, particularly in rural areas. These include humiliating, painful punishments, such as the whipping of women accused of moral offenses. Assailants who fling acid in their faces disfigured numerous women. One human rights organization reported that 181 women suffered acid attacks during the year. The most common motivation for acid-throwing attacks against women is revenge by a rejected suitor; land disputes are another leading cause of the acid attacks. Few perpetrators of the acid attacks are prosecuted. Often the perpetrator flings the acid in through an open window during the night, making cases difficult to prove. Some arrests have been made, and one person has been given the death sentence.
The law prohibits rape and physical spousal abuse, but it makes no specific provision for spousal rape as a crime. A total of 3,516 rapes and 3,523 incidents of spousal abuses were officially reported during the year. Of the spousal abuse cases, 2,814 were related to disputes over dowry. Of the 2,130 alleged rapists that were prosecuted, 63 persons were convicted. The Government reports that other rape cases are under trial. During the year, the Government acceded to the U.N. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The Government also has enacted laws specifically prohibiting certain forms of discrimination against women, including the Anti-Dowry Prohibition Act of 1980, the Cruelty to Women Law of 1983, and the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act of 1995, which was replaced by the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act of 2000. However, enforcement of these laws is weak, especially in rural areas, and the Government seldom prosecutes those cases that are filed. According to a human rights organization, there are 7 government-run and 13 privately run large shelter homes available for use by women who are victims of violence. Some smaller homes also are available for victims of violence. However, these are insufficient to meet victims’ shelter needs. As a result, the Government often holds women who file rape complaints in safe custody, usually in prison. Safe custody frequently results in further abuses against victims, discouraging the filing of complaints by other women, and often continues for extended periods during which women often are unable to gain release.
There is extensive trafficking in women for the purpose of forced prostitution within the country and to other countries in Asia.
5.8 Education and Employment
For the most part, women remain in a subordinate position in society, and the Government has not acted effectively to protect their basic freedoms. Literacy rates are approximately 26 percent for women, compared with 49 percent for men. In recent years, female school enrollment has improved. Approximately 50 percent of primary and secondary school students are female. Women often are ignorant of their rights because of continued high illiteracy rates and unequal educational opportunities, and strong social stigmas and lack of economic means to obtain legal assistance frequently keep women from seeking redress in the courts. Many NGO’s operate programs to raise women’s awareness of their rights, and to encourage and assist them in exercising those rights.
Under the 1961 Muslim Family Ordinance, female heirs inherit less than male relatives do, and wives have fewer divorce rights than husbands. Men are permitted to have up to four wives, although this right rarely is exercised. Laws provide some protection for women against arbitrary divorce and the taking of additional wives by husbands without the first wife’s consent, but the protections generally apply only to registered marriages. Marriages in rural areas often are not registered because of ignorance of the law. Under the law, a Muslim husband is required to pay his ex-wife alimony for only 3 months, but this rarely is enforced.
Employment opportunities have been stronger for women than for men in the last decade, which largely is due to the growth of the export garment industry in Dhaka and Chittagong. Eighty percent of the 1.4 million garment sector workers are women. Programs extending micro-credit to large numbers of rural women also have contributed to greater economic power for them. However, women still fill only a small fraction of other wage-earning jobs. According to a report by the Public Administration Reforms Commission publicized in October, women hold only 12 percent of government jobs, and only 2 percent of senior positions. The Government’s policy to include more women in government jobs only has had limited effect. In recent years, about 15 percent of all recruits into government service have been women.
The garment and shrimp processing industries are the highest employers of female laborers. Forty-three percent of women work in the agriculture, fisheries, and livestock sectors, but 70 percent of them are unpaid family laborers. Many women work as manual laborers on construction projects as well, and constitute nearly 25 percent of all manufacturing workers. Women also are found in the electronics, food processing, and beverage and handicraft industries.
6.1 Over view in Nepal
According to Nepal governmental thrives to bring positive changes to the present social structure and thereby improve the status of women in Nepal. Personalities dedicated to Human Rights, social justice and development initiatives for more than a decade have consolidated human resource and synergy in the organization. Nepal governmental organization that aims to nurture marginalized groups and especially for the realization of women’s rights, gender equality through advocacy, pressure and partnership and assistance. Nepal intends to raise awareness for women’s empowerment through sustainable peace, good governance and human rights to encourage women to enter into the institutional development to establish an equitable society in Nepal.
Government of Nepal proclaims its purpose with strong commitment to empower women in order to stand on equal footing with men in society. It has embarked on programs on Women’s Social, Economic and Cultural Rights Promotion, Women’s Civil and Political Rights Promotion, Solidarity Building among Human/Women Rights Organizations and Activists, Pro-Women Policy, Peace & Reconciliation and Institutional Development to shape a balance in the society from the grassroots to the national and international level through an incessant implementation of such programs in Nepal.
- Institutionalization of the advocacy process for ensuring the women’s rights.
- Promotion of peace and good governance to strengthen democracy.
- Institutionalization of Jagaran Nepal as a national resource organization for women’s rights.
- To enhance the capacity of people and to ensure socio- economic civil and political rights.
- To build solidarity among human rights organization and activists for lobby and advocacy in ensuring women’s economic, social , cultural and political rights.
- To promote pro-excluded group, class, community (especially women) policy/planning at local/central governance political parties and civil society organization.
- To promote culture of peace from local to national level.
- To built image of Nepal as a women’s rights organization.
- Strengthen Nepal enough to become a self reliant institution.
- To address emerging women issues through women perspective.
Major Programs of Organization:
- Women’s Social, Economic and Cultural Rights Promotion Program
- Women’s Civil and Political Rights Promotion Program
- Peace & Reconciliation Program
- Pro- Women Policy & Governance Program
- Solidarity/Network Building among Human/ Women Rights Organizations and Activists
- Institutional Development Program
- Advocacy and Lobby
- Develop IEC Materials and Its Dissemination
- Address emerging women issues as aid effectiveness, global warming, poverty, food security, environmental degradation, trade debt etc. from women perspective.
Major Achievements of the Organization:
Government of Nepal has been continuously putting in the maximum effort for women perspective/gender equality social transformation since its inception. In course of such continuous endeavor in its work, the following major achievements are highlighted:
- Success in reaching its activities in all the five development regions’ 25 districts along with formation of its organizational structure.
- They are working in 15 districts in the field of political women leaders’ enhancement and more than 500 women political leaders have been benefited.
- Working in the field of HIV/AIDS and Violence against Women.
- Ability to work during the conflict situation and playing an important role in Janaandolan-II.
- Working in undeveloped, poor and geographically challenged areas.
- Realization of work on current issues relating to women rights as aid effectiveness, global warming, poverty, food security, environmental degradation, trade debt etc.
- Around 2000 women have directly and around 3000 women have indirectly benefited from women rights awareness programs initiated in 10 different districts.
- The women groups are being able to collect the deposit of Rs 1, 00,000-4, 00,000 through the economic empowerment program.
- In girl child education program, conflict affected children and deprived class girls benefited and more than 150 girl child got chance to study in the schools.
- To give pressure to the concerned authorities in ensuring at least 33% women representation at all state mechanisms, we manage to organize a signature campaign and more than 50 thousand signatures were collected from 14 districts.
- Political Instability hampers all development work in commencement.
Organizational Infrastructure is the key to initiate the program effectively.
- Skilled human resource is to be developed for initiating any endeavors meaningfully.
- Political parties’ leaders are to be updated on international treaties, provisions and laws to work for women rights issues and gender issues.
- The governance of any organizations should be maintained effectively.
- Patriarchal social structure is still pravailing in our society which hampers to ensure women rights.
- Neutrality should be maintained for broader perspective.
Highlights of Some Emerging Programs:
Relying on the vision, mission, goal and objectives of the organization, Nepal works for contemporary issues arising nationally and internationally. The emerging issues are;
- Women issues and constituent assembly process
- Aid effectiveness and its effect on women’s social, economic, political and cultural development.
- Global warming and its effect on women
- Poverty, food security and environmental degradation and its effect on women
- Trade debt and its impact on women
6.2 Overview in Pakistan
The women in Pakistan have been constantly complaining of having being isolated from the mainstream of society. Women feel disillusioned on being maltreated by the male-oriented set up in Pakistan. They strongly claim that if they are given a chance, they can contribute more positively towards the development of all social aspects.
However the Pakistani society usually adopts a hostile attitude towards the women. Their development in society is hindered due to many factors. Particularly the rural woman has to sustain, sometimes, unbearable dominance by the other sections of society.
Numerically the women in Pakistan are almost equal to men. They are equal in potential as the men. The Pakistani women live in the most diversified location of the tribal, feudal or urban environments. She can be a highly qualified and self-confident professional or a diffident peasant toiling along with her men-folk.
Women in Pakistan observe ‘Pardha’ while coming out of domestic environs or mixing up with other sections of society. ‘Pardha,’ or veil, is meant to segregate the women-folk from the male section of the society. The women are not prohibited from working but at the same time are supposed to observe strictly the rules of morality.
Due to pardha system, most of women (particularly of low education) have to take up work at home. They involve themselves in knitting, dressmaking, embroidery, etc.
In the areas like NWFP and Balochistan, life is governed and regulated by strict beliefs and behavioral patterns. A woman has no say in any aspect of her life, including her marriage. In the populated provinces of Sindh and Punjab, a woman may keep her connections with her family after marriage. She expect support from her brothers and father in case of separation and divorce from her husband. In Punjab and Sindh, women are seen working in the fields with their men-folk collecting fuels and in some cases working on the construction sites shifting material from one place to another.
Most of women in rural areas have to bear double burden of domestic and outside work. They are the first to rise and last to bed. They lit the fire to prepare breakfast, wash the utensils and clean the house before setting out on their outside work. When every member has ridden the bed after completing day’s work, they are engaged in working.
Although the conditions of women in urban areas are better than those of the rural women, yet the old traditions and religious restraints have hindered the independent and free movement of the women.
Pakistan is the first country in the Muslim world that has elected a woman as its prime minister twice.
6.3 Overview in India
India, with a population of 989 million, is the second most population country of that number; 120 million are women who live in poverty.
India has 16 percent of India’s population currently derive their live hood from land resources, which includes 84 percent of the economically-active women.
India is one of the few countries where males significantly outnumber females, and this imbalance has increased over time. Indian’s maternal mortality between ages one and five and high maternal morality rates result in a deficit of demands in the population. Chatterjee(1990) estimates that deaths of young girls in India exceed those of young boys by over 300,000 each year, and every sixty infant death is specifically due to gender discrimination, of the 15 million baby in India each year, nearly 25 percent will not live to see their 15th birthday.
“Although India was the first country to announce an official family planning programe in 1952, its population grew from million in 1951 to 844 million in 1991. India’s total fertility rate of 3.8 births per women can be considered moderate by world standards. But the shreer magnitude of population increase has resultin such a felling of urgency that containment of population is growth is listed as one of the six most important objectives in the Eights five-year plan.
Since 1970, the use of modern contraception methods has risen from 10 percent to 40 percent, with great variance between northern and southern India. The most sticking aspect of contraceptive use in India is the predominance of sterilization, which accounts for more than 85 percent of total modern contraception use, with female sterilization accounting for 90 percent of all sterilizations.
The Indian constitution grants women equal rights with men, but strong patriarchal traditions persist, with women’s lives shaped by customs those centuries old. In most Indian families, a daughter is views as liability, and she is conditioned to believe that she is inferior and subordinate to men. Sons are idolized and celebrated. May you be the mother of a hundred sons is a common Hindu wedding blessing.
The origin of the Indian idea of appropriate female behavior can be traced to the rules laid down by Manu in 200 B.C: “by young girls, to young women, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house”. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons, women must never be independent.”
A study of women in Swayam Shikshan Proyog(SSO), based in 20 villages in four district in Maharashara state was introduced in this way.
7.1 Critical discussion
Discrimination against women is a common phenomenon throughout the world and Bangladesh is no exception in this regard. The society has been advanced, women’s society has been advanced as well, yet the women are remaining deprived. According to the Constitution of Bangladesh (1972), both men and women are supposed to enjoy equal freedom and rights. Yet, the government has not followed the constitution. We are fighting for the establishment of democracy and democratic practices since long. We want to form a transparent, democratic and parliamentary state where the active participation of women should be ensured in case of running the state. Moreover, women’s participation needs to be ensured in every level of policy making process and in all elections as well. And for doing so, women’s participation in every type of activities of the political parties should be ensured also.
According to Justice Golam Rabbani said, religious obligations always keep the women aloof from the society. In the political arena, religion is being used as a tool to put obstacle in the way of women’s political empowerment. He explained about different articles of different laws of the country which are related to discrimination against women, marriage, divorce, polygamy etc. He added his personal experience in this regard and said that he recommended banning Fatwa while he himself was a Judge, but it could not become effective due to resistance from the fundamentalist. He said that the fundamentalists include religion into politics and try to use religion as a weapon, which is totally against religious ideas. Supporting BMP’s demand about enacting the Uniform Family Code, Justice Rabbani said, this law will be a unique step towards ensuring gender equality as there is the provision for equal opportunities for all in the proposed law.
Violation of woman rights and dignity is a common feature throughout the world and as well as Bangladesh. In the era of modern civilization women are depriving from their equitable honor and position in the society. Deaths of women for the cause of dowry are the common phenomenon in our country by the same persons who are legally and socially enjoined to protect them, i.e. their husbands or in- laws.
Discrimination against woman in respect of service, salary, position, dignity is widely practicing in the society. There should be an end of this status of the women. For this we like to propose the following recommendations for the protection of the women rights.
It has to be acknowledged first that women are contributing to development and economic growth of a country until and unless participation of women in public spheres and design in such a manner to participate women in development activities of a country.
There is discrimination against women everywhere and it is a long term task and it cannot be removed by laws only. The attitude of society towards women needs to be changed.
7.3 Scope for further study
- Dower system is essential part of marriage. The some amount of money the husband is bound to give his wife, but actually most of the woman does not get the dower at the time of marriage or after marriage. So it is an important question to our society for the easy realization of dower. On this point further study need.
- Inheritance & Muslim Woman’s Right is not good enough because woman do not get equal property form father. Here is noted that after death father woman get few property which is against of the natural justice. That is why, how the woman can get equal property compared with her brother, about this point need further study.
Women are the part and parcel of the society they are the nerve of the society also. We cannot deny their role in the global society. We cannot deny their role in the global society. We cannot imagine a body without a heart: similarly it is impossible to think a society without women. Our day to day practice it is impossible to think a society without women. Our day to day practice observations seen that in every step of people and they cannot enjoy their rights property. Their right were violated in while world not only Bangladesh and there is no settled remedial method. Discrimination of women is global problem, not only Bangladesh but all over the world.
- Allimuzzaman Chowdhury – “Muslim Family Court Ordinance- 1985”, Dhaka; Seventh Ed-March-2005. Publisher -Desh Publication1986.
- Dr. Taslima Monsoor -“Dower and Dowry: Its affect on the empowerment of Muslim women”, Dhaka; Second Ed-March-2005. Publisher-Hira Publication.
- Obidul Huq Chowdhury-“Hand Book of Muslim Family Laws”, Dhaka; Fifth Ed-March-1997.Publisher-Esrardul Huk Chowdhury.
- D.F. Mulla – “Principles of Mohamedan Law”, Bombay; 17th Ed-1972. Publisher- M.M. Tripathi (Private Ltd).
Journal and Reports:
- Women in development, Observer Magazine, March 18,2006- http://www.bangladesh.net/observer/jur/pnmo/m18,06?id=
- Bangladesh Government moves to boost women’s rights- http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=77543
- Development of women right in Nepal-http://www.jagarannepal.org/page.php?id=2
- Sultana Kamal – Law for Muslim Women in Bangladesh – http://www.wluml.org/english/pubs/pdf/dossier4/D4-Bangladesh.
- Family Court Ordinance, 1985
- Guardian and Wards Act, 1890
- Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961
 (Ordinance N°. VIII of 1961 Vide Pakistan Code 1966 Vol.XIV, P.67)
 (Vide East Pakistan Code, 1963 Vol. 11. p.71)
 (who solemnizes marriage)
 (D.F. Mulla, Principles of Mohammedan Law, 17th Ed.P.277)
 (Irrevocable Divorce)
 (D.F.Mulla, Principles of Mohammedan Law, 17th Ed.)
 (Sec7 (6), Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961.)
 (Act N° VIII of 1939 (Vide Pakistan Code 1966, Vol.IX, P.716)
 (e.i.90 days, and in case of a pregnant wife till the end of the pregnancy)
 (20 D.L.R.1968 P.1).
 (Dhaka Law Reports, 1955, 1958, 1964 and Guardian and Wards Act, 1890.)
 Naimuddin Ahmed – Journal of the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs. P.64
 A organization Nepal of women rights in Nepal