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Gender Discrimination on Cusp of Society

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Gender discrimination indicates any situation where despite of being skilled and competent, a person doesn’t get equal opportunity because of their gender identity. Although the right to be treated equally is an inevitable right, but initial discrimination can be observed in family where the members treat new born babies according to their assigned sex rather giving equal belief that family members will have to depend on a male member. So, a boy gets better facilities than a girl. The general idea that the responsibility of a girl is to act as wife and mother. As a result, the females start forgetting that they have individual personality and the right to explore themselves consistent with their dreams. Gender equality is basically concerned with the concept that in lieu of constraining by their sex, men, women and non-binary should stand in equal position in pursuance of their capabilities. It’s a wrong concept of being treated as same by equality. Dominant gender stereotypes always make barricades in case of freedom and mobility of a girl. Domestic violence, harassment across the globe becomes an ordinary incident and deprived of choosing their standard life style.

In spite of improvement, Bangladesh’s rank 47 out 144 countries is quite overclouding according to the Gender Inequality Index in 2017 is quite overclouding. Though we have many laws, women and non-binary are being discriminated in every sector which has been shown:

Family decision making:

When we move to women’s and transgender’s participation in decision-making positions, the gender gaps are exacerbated whereas they get little bit opportunities to express their opinion regarding any family matter. The injustice moment for a woman when a woman plays crucial role by providing financial support along with taking care of family members but the decision- making powers of a family condensed with male members. It’s very common in maximum family that generally authoritarian character is involved with male member and he takes almost every decision which one is good for their children as well treat the women as your duty is only attached with the take of family. Even after getting married, whether an educated woman would choose career or not depends on her husband.

Inheritance:

Since Bangladeshi people are entitled to inheritance by their personal law, percentage of inequality for women and transgenders is high. Whether on purview of Article 28(2) of Constitution of Bangladesh women shall equally be treated along with men in all aspects of the State and public life but no protection has been ensured regarding private life. From a comparative discussion of women’s inheritance right laws in Bangladesh will give a clear concept of getting punctured in private sphere:

Muslim inheritance:

The share of a daughter is half that of a son. The daughter will have the right to inherit only half, and several daughters will collectively inherit 2/3 while having no son. A widowed wife’s right on her deceased husband’s property has variation on the ground of having child. She will inherit one eighth of his property while having children but will inherit one-quarter if there is no child. In case of several wives, they are collectively entitled to inheritance one-eighth of the property.

Hindu Law:

How much rigid law they possess whereas Hindu daughter’s inheritance right is dependent upon giving birth to a son when there is no son. In fact, they are ordinarily deprived of inheriting property if there is a son.

Christian law:

Under the Succession Act of 1925, Christian inheritance laws in Bangladesh providing equal shares to a Christian son and daughter comparatively reflects a better non-discriminatory circumstance.

In fact, Article 13(a) of international human rights agreement Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and national constitutions trying to ensure equality in inheriting property also. It’s now crying need to modify the provision of Article 28(2) of our Constitution including the private rights. If a woman inherit property, it would be a good key for placing themselves in better position as well to be supportive person for their family. To reduce domestic violence, equal disposition of property is a good step.

Transgender:

It’s pathetic that transgender people mostly barred from inheriting estates when parents die. Just because of being recognized as “third gender” why would they face this inequality?

Politics:

Political environment of Bangladesh is highly patriarchal which retains women’s participation minimal. Physical abuse, family support, corruption along with sexual harassment are the main barriers for women in political participation. Though our Prime Minister’s, Speaker and leader of opposite party are women but the elected number of women to general constituencies remain standing very low due to lack of strong political shield alike them. Regretfully, there was merely 3.49% female candidates in 2018 parliamentary election. Among 260 candidates of the AL, currently the ruling party only 22 women were nominated, while 16 female candidates were nominated from the major opposition party, BNP among 257 candidates in 300 seats (Antara & Raju, 2018). Holding 7.3 per cent of seats in the general constituencies (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 2019), only 22 women candidates got elected in 2018.

Transgender’s participation in Parliament:

It’s disappointing that Constitution of Bangladesh provides no provision regarding transgender’s participation in National Parliament of Bangladesh. As according to Article 65 of National Constitution the Bangladesh National Parliament has 50 reserved seats exclusively for women whereas among transgenders who recognize themselves as women will enjoy the right to vie for these reserved seats in the forthcoming elections of National Parliament. Application of this provision can barely be seen to eradicate this gap.[1]

Public employment:

Though Article 29(2) of our Constitution clearly provides equal opportunity in public employment irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth but practically it’s opposite if we notice the data mentioned in below:

The bitter reality can be proved from the latest LFS (2016/17) that in respect of managerial positions, unfortunately, women hold only 11% whereas the comparable figure for professional pursuits is around 35%. Garments, textiles, food and chemicals in spite of being regarded as the most advantageous employing sectors for female, higher growth can be seen in male employment during 2007 and 2013. Overall, the opportunity for female to be employed has been declined, from an average of 20.35% in 2007 to 17.67% in 2013.[2]

In case of Transgenders:

A Chittagong-based firm Denim Expert, a garment exporter recruited two transgender workers as part of its project while most of the transgender community are begging on the streets for livelihood [5]. Moreover, appointment of Tashnuva Anan Shisir’s as Bangladesh’s first transgender news anchor at Boishakhi TV, absolutely a milestone step because in ordinary parlance it’s quite difficult for them to get a standard job.[3]

Criticism of government’s step:

The ration of women’s employment between 2010 and 2016-17 has been increased to 18.6 million from 16. 2million[4].In eradicating discrimination though the rank of Bangladesh is good but still now women and transgender are getting discriminated. While it’s clear that our Constitution doesn’t provide any provision regarding participation of transgenders in National Parliament, the government isn’t trying to solve this problem yet. Unfortunately, government still now remains silence to ensure equality in respect of private spheres. Bangladesh is also a signatory country of CEDAW and also have many existing laws but still now gender inequality exists as barrier for them. Then what’s the benefit of having these laws?

Recommendations:

As women as well, transgenders are deprived of expressing their opinion, government along with people should make an environment so that they can be educated and also have gained self-confidence.

Though our Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina and leader of BNP, Khaleda Zia have active participation in politics, may be the reason to have strong political background, a number of women and transgender isn’t getting opportunity to participate in National Politics. By eradicating all kinds of prejudices and religious barriers, family’s discouragement, harassment from the political party which encourage women to keep far away from politics, their participation should be ensured.

Bangladesh’s laws, in spite of being secular in name, the private spheres remain governed by personal law due to which women’s and transgender’s personal matter such as inheritance, marriage, divorce get affected. It’s high time to amend this provision and to ensure equality.

This smaller number of participations of transgenders in public employment isn’t satisfactory. No matter how a girl is qualified, job sectors are less interested to provide them job specially for transgenders. They should have tried to become entrepreneurs and job sectors should ensure equality.

Conclusion:

Inequality between genders affects individuals but also stunts economic growth and hinders development. We must reverse this depressing trend instead doubling concept of gender inequality. Society will be getting paralyzed till a sustainable environment of gender equality has been maintained.

Writer: Meem Afza Simee, 3rd year 1st semester, LL.B (Hon’s), Jagannath University. 

Endnote:

[1] Fazlur Raju, ‘Is Bangladesh on the cusp of electing its first transgender MP?’ (The Dhaka Tribune, 16 January 2019) <https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/politics/2019/01/16/is-bangladesh-on-the-cusp-of-electing-its-first-transgender-mp> accessed 21 October 2021

[2] Refayet Mridha, ‘Denim maker blazes a trail’ (The Daily Star, 30 September 2018) <https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/03/05/tashnuva-anan-becomes-bangladesh-s-first-transgender-news-anchor> accessed 21 October 2021

[3] Tribune Desk, ‘Tashnuva Anan becomes Bangladesh’s first transgender news anchor’ (The Dhaka Tribune, 05 March 2021) <https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/03/05/tashnuva-anan-becomes-bangladesh-s-first-transgender-news-anchor> accessed 21 October 2021

[4] Afrose Chaity, ‘Women empowerment: Bangladesh sets example for the world’ (The Dhaka Tribune, 12 July 2018) <https://www.dhakatribune.com/opinion/special/2018/07/12/women-empowerment-bangladesh-sets-example-for-the-world> accessed 21 October 2021

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