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Envoy Sees Plight of Bangladeshi Women

Posted December. 05, 2005 07:09,   


Kang Keum-sil, Korea’s ambassador for women’s affairs who recently visited Bangladesh to look at the women’s human rights situation there, said “As humans are weak rather than wicked, violence for their own survival is being done against minorities and the weak.”

Kang added, “Peace in the human community will not come until violence against women which repeats itself in extreme situations, disappears.”

-Monthly income: $10

Bangladesh has the densest population in the world, and its income per capita is just 300 dollars. Its women’s human rights situation is the worst in the world, thanks to poverty, disaster and violence. Kang said, “In the extreme situation of poverty and disaster, violence is being committed mainly against women. In downtown’s ghettos of Dhaka, about 300 shabby houses made of slate are closely built. Two or three families are living together in a small house of less than ten pyeong as they cannot afford to pay fifty dollars of a rent a month. They barely manage to live on begging.”

Good Neighbors, a Korean NGO, is operating Mother and Child Health Centers for the destitute there.

Ambassador Kang went there on the third day of her Bangladesh visit. She saw malnourished children with abdominal swelling. She said, “I feel sorry for the irresponsible attitude of Bangladesh which doesn’t come up with any measures for rectifying its lack of funding for these people, and solely depends upon foreign aid organizations.”

-Seventy percent of women illiterate

Bangladesh has more than a 70% women’s illiteracy rate. As parents have their daughters at the age of 14 or 15 married off due to poverty, they don’t have an opportunity to get educated properly. Due to low education levels, Bangladeshi women work at sewing factories for less than 150 dollars a month and are stuck in the poverty cycle.

Eom Myeong-hee, a schoolmaster of Mirpur Elementary School operated by the Korean Development Association in Bangladesh (KDAB) said “Girls take just two hours of classes a day because they have to go home to work. There are more children who don’t go to school, peddle or beg on the street.”

When Ambassador Kang met with government officials from such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Women’s affairs, she emphasized the importance of higher education on women many times in order to break the poverty circle.

-500 female victims of acid violence a year

The number of Bangladeshi women victims of acid violence reaches more than 500 yearly.

Monira (14), a girl Kang met there was attacked with acid by a young man while she was sleeping because she refused to marry him. She was severely burned on her chest and hands as well as her face.

Arpina (15) married her husband as his fourth wife at an early age. She then ran away to her parents’ home as she couldn’t withstand the maltreatment of her husband and his wives. Her husband came to her parents’ home and threw acid on her while she was sleeping with her son. So, her son also got burned.

Niharika Momtaz of the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) said “Since 1960, women have become victims of acid violence on the grounds that they have declined to marry or disobeyed their husband. Besides women, acid violence has recently spread to children.”

When Kang met with officials of the ASF, she said that not only medical treatment for women victims but also protection organization are needed and that she will try to find relevant ways to help them.