Earlier this month, six young men in central Bangladesh were sentenced to seven days in jail for engaging in eve teasing, or street harassment, under Section 34 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. This is the first time men have gone to jail for eve teasing.
A unit of the Rapid action Battalion (RAB-11) caught the accused young men harassing a group of female students from the Gono Bidyaa Niketon School, in Narayanganja District. They were arrested on the spot and tried the next day.
The police superintendent said the punishment was meant to serve as a warning to any potential wrongdoer. “It will prevent this type of crime,” he said, “which we are trying to eradicate.”
Their attention to this matter—which impacts women worldwide—has been spurred by an increase in the number of women committing suicide because of harassers. Recently, for example, 14-year-old student Umme Kulsum Elora killed herself by drinking pesticide in order to escape a 19-year-old man and his friend who had been harassing her in the streets for a year. Her family had talked to the man’s family and to school authorities but nothing changed. So she took matters into her own hands. So sad!
In Bangladesh, human and women’s rights activists welcome the prison sentence. They hope it will set a precedent and be used in future cases. They also hope it will deter street harassment from occurring. Me too.
When will police, legislators, and human rights activists in the United States pay attention to this issue? When will we have a law against street harassment?