Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous Women Targets of Sexual Violence

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    The human rights violation on indigenous women and girls in Bangladesh has turned into a matter of grave concern over the years. The indigenous women mainly include the ones living in Chittagong Hill Tracts area (CHT). According to a report by Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) on 31st January 2015, Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network (BIWN) organized a press conference to share the situation of violence against indigenous women in Bangladesh reported in 2014 at roundtable hall of Dhaka Reporters Unity. The press statement reads violence against indigenous women has increased in the recent years.

    UNPO’s article also mentions that in 2013 the number of violence against indigenous women was 45 among which 32 were in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and 13 were in the plain land In 2014, it increased to 75. Among the total reported violence in 2014, most cases of women have been sexually and physically abused. They were the victim of rape, gang rape, harassment and also kidnapping. The tragedy is that mostly adolescent girls from ethnic minor groups, belonging to the age group of 12 to 19 become prey to violence. Moreover, most of the perpetrators of these incidents allegedly belong to Bengali settler community and were influential members of mainstream population.

    According to the report of Kapaeeng Foundation, almost 12% victims of sexual violence in 2014 are among from indigenous peoples who possess around 2.0% population of total population of the country. On the contrary, 88% victims of sexual violence are among from mainstream Bengali people who possess 98.0% population of the country.Being in the ethnic minority groups of Bangladesh, people of CHT areas are also becoming the victim of statelessness.

    One of the main objectives to commit sexual violence is to create tension among the indigenous people in order to uproot them from ancestral lands and grab their land illegally. Therefore, to improve the current situation of indigenous women, (BIWN) proposed some rules to take effective initiatives to stop violence against indigenous women and children. The rules include mainly the following:

    1. To punish the perpetrators of violence against indigenous women and children
    2. To provide adequate legal aid, medical support, counseling and compensation to the victim.
    1. To form a separate land commission for the indigenous peoples of the plains to recover the dispossessed ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples.
    1. To implement the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) recommendations – elimination of violence against women and end culture of impunity that was promised by the government of Bangladesh during the 2nd circle of UPR in 2013.

    These recommendations by BIWN if gets approval by the government will play active role in minimizing sexual violence in Bangladesh. The punishment for the perpetrators can be useful to reduce such brutality and the counseling programs can help women to build up their confidence level. It is now in the hands of the government to take initiatives on the basis of these recommendations.

    By: Marjan Akhter

    Reporter of Glocal Khabar, Bangladesh

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