Men must take the lead in tackling violence against women, a group of journalists, bloggers, actors and NGO officials have observed at a seminar.
The observation came up at a discussion titled 'Redefining masculinity', held at the BRAC Centre in the capital on Saturday.
A pervasive culture of impunity is mostly responsible for the recent increase in sexual violence and other forms of crimes perpetrated against women, the speakers said.
Exposure to online content provoking sexual abuse of women and children, strong social and religious values of gender equality and a lack of strong voice among males against such incidents are also responsible for the rapid increase in incidents of violence against women, they observed.
Syed Ishtiaque Reza, director of news, Ekattor Television, said: “Many mass media reports describe vivid details of the most horrible crimes and focus on the dress or demeanour of the woman. We must get rid of such terrible journalism.”
Nabonita Chowdhury, the editor, DBC TV, observed that "backward social values are at the root of all issues."
While a massive campaign aimed at changing the male psyche is urgent, more investments should be made to promote women empowerment, she asserted.
Asif Saleh, senior director, strategy, communications and empowerment, BRAC, moderated the discussion.
He highlighted the brutal gang-rape and murder of Zakia Sultana Rupa that recently shocked the nation.
“We are once again awakened to the reality of increasing acts of sexual violence against women. The perpetrators are males or mostly males.
“In this context, we are intently thinking how a strong social movement can be forged in which men will be at the forefront and raise their loudest voice against all forms of violence against women.”
BRAC Director Anna Minj, while analysing data of violence against women in different years, said in 2016, BRAC received on average 10-12 complaints per district per month, but in 2017 the number has risen to 16-17.
Supriti Dhar, editor, Women Chapter, shared how she had been under constant threats since starting the portal.
“Every day I feel like giving up. Our writers are also victimised. Many of them are quitting as they are being termed as ‘prostitutes’,” Dhar said.
“We have been working for women empowerment for the last two decades. Now the campaign needs to focus on men.”
Actor Iresh Zaker said: “We need to start working at the ground level. The rise of women causes fear in men. To solve that situation we need to move through forming working groups.”
Zafar Sobhan, editor, Dhaka Tribune, Towhida Shiropa, staff reporter, Prothom Alo, Sushmita S Preetha, editor, Star Weekend, The Daily Star, actor Rafiath Rashid Mithila, and blogger-activist Arif Zebtik, among others, also spoke at the event.
bdnews24.com was the media partner of the roundtable.
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