South Asia

Bangladesh 'Eve teasing' protest draws students

"Eve teasing" protest in Dhaka
Image caption Students are angry at recent suicides and killings involving women who have been harassed

Scores of school and college students have held a rally in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka to protest against the sexual harassment of women.

The practice is often referred to as "Eve teasing".

The rally was the latest in a series of protests following a spate of suicides and killings involving women subjected to bullying and harassment.

The protesters want the government to stop sexual harassment and provide better protection for women.

Eve teasing is widespread in Bangladesh. Young girls often face verbal abuse, taunts and stalkers.

Critics forcibly silenced

Those harassing them are often their school colleagues or men in the street.

Unable to bear the insults, some women have committed suicide.

Activists say stalking and sexual harassment has led to the deaths of more than 24 people, most of them women, since the beginning of this year.

In recent days, some who have spoken out against sexual harassment have been murdered.

A 50-year-old woman died after a motorcycle was driven over her when she protested against the bullying of her daughter last week.

A college teacher who spoke out against such bullying was also murdered.

The killings have led to protests across the country.

Following the suicides and killings, the High Court has asked the government to take measures to prevent stalking.

Officials in the district of Tangail are now offering karate training to all female school and college students. Learning martial arts makes girls better able to protect themselves, they say.

Police sometimes arrest youths accused of sexual harassment, but they usually go unpunished as many of the victims prefer not to pursue the case against them because of the social stigma.

Parents, concerned about their daughters' honour, also tend to avoid taking cases to court.

"Some right-wing parties say that if the girls wear a veil, then they can escape Eve teasing," said Ovinu Kibria Islam from the Bangladesh Students' Union.

"But we don't think so. We need tougher legislation and it should be properly implemented to stop this menace."

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