Dhaka: Rising incidents of sexual harassment and increasing public anger in protest has prompted the Bangladesh government, headed by a woman, Sheikh Hasina, to take action.
In the latest incident Friday, villagers set fire to houses of some alleged stalkers in Talupara village in Sirajganj district, about 110 km northwest of Dhaka.
The mob also caught a stalker's father and handed him over to the police.
In another incident, at least 10 members of a family were Wednesday beaten for protesting against stalking, and one of them died, The Daily Star reported.
Abdur Rauf, son of Delwar, used to pester Kamrul's wife Joinab, 18, every day. After Joinab brought the matter to Delwar's attention, Rauf and his men went to Kamrul's house and beat up his family. Kamrul's uncle Aser Ali succumbed to injuries on way to hospital.
In another incident last week, a school girl's father, who managed to nab her stalker and hand him over to the police, could not take questions from the media and died of heart attack.
The government has promised a law to prevent sexual harassment of women at work. But the problem is difficult to tackle in villages where women and young girls from broken families or with men away on work face harassment from idle, at times better off, youths.
The government declared to observe June 13 as the Eve Teasing Protection Day from this year.
The resolve to raise public awareness comes from the presence of several women in public life.
"In a country where the prime minister (Sheikh Hasina), foreign minister (Dipu Moni), home minister (Sajeda Khatun), agriculture minister (Motia Chowdhury) and the leader of the opposition (Begum Khaleda Zia) are female, women and girls cannot walk on the streets, use public transport, or go to school, shops, parks or other public places without often being ogled, taunted, harassed, humiliated, sexually molested, groped and assaulted - and in some cases, attacked with acid, abducted and raped," The Daily Star lamented in a commentary Saturday.
According to the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, almost 90 percent of girls aged 10-18 years are victims of sexual harassment.
The perpetrators range from college students and unemployed youth to street vendors, rickshaw pullers, bus drivers, fellow passengers, colleagues and supervisors.
"Sexual terrorism thrives on patriarchal attitudes, prejudices, cultural norms, double standards and discriminatory laws that devalue women and deny them their rights. Eradicating it will require transformative social change," the newspaper said.
First Published: Saturday, June 19, 2010, 12:33