Speakers during a webinar yesterday said malpractice of ‘victim blaming’ prevailed in the society since the state failed to protect its citizens from oppression and injustice.
They said victim blaming was also deeply rooted in patriarchal values, and called for collective effort to bring a change in this regard.
The webinar, titled “The Culture of Victim Blaming”, was arranged by Dhaka University in association with Anthropublic, Light Hour with Wara and MGR.
Addressing the webinar, eminent rights activist Sultana Kamal said when the state and society cannot protect its citizens from oppression and injustice, they blame the victims to hide their inability.
“Unfortunately, our state and policymakers always compromise when it comes to protect the rights of women,” she said.
Prof Sadeka Halim, dean of DU’s social sciences faculty, said patriarchy was so deeply rooted in the society that when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared victims of sexual abuse in the Liberation War as birangana, he faced protest.
Referring to the fact that birangana were recognised only in 2014-15, she said, “We should think… how women en masse are treated in our society.”
Umme Wara, assistant professor at DU’s criminology department, stressed that the discriminatory nature of relevant law could be responsible for the prevalence of such malpractice.
She also stressed the need for reform in the Evidence Act-1872.
Children are taught in the textbooks that certain jobs that require a lot of physical activity are only suitable for males. Besides, religious leaders often preach that certain types of women’s clothing is responsible for social degradation, she said, exploring the causes behind victim blaming.
Prof Kaberi Gayen of DU’s mass communication and journalism department emphasised mass media’s role in safeguarding victims of rape and sexual violence incidents.
Addressing as chief guest, Education Minister Dipu Moni said “To make an initiative sustainable, we have to take necessary preparations for our society. These preparatory stages should not be considered as compromise of the government. We are trying our best to restore the values that we achieved through the Liberation War.”
Journalists ZI Mamun and Anis Alamgir, among others, spoke at the webinar.