Bangladesh's family laws fuel female poverty - rights group

Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:37pm IST

A woman and crosses a bridge with her child next to a tannery factory by the river Buriganga at Hazaribagh in Dhaka July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj/Files

A woman and crosses a bridge with her child next to a tannery factory by the river Buriganga at Hazaribagh in Dhaka July 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Biraj/Files

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (TrustLaw) - Laws on marriage, separation, and divorce in Bangladesh discriminate against women and girls in abusive marriages, often driving them into poverty when their marriages fall part, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a new report released on Monday.

The report titled "Will I get my dues before I die?" spotlights various personal laws covering Hindu, Muslim and Christian family matters in Bangladesh, showing how they fail to recognise a wife's contribution in the marital home as well as her right to an equal share property at the time of divorce.

"Bangladesh is world famous for programs meant to reduce women's poverty, yet for decades it has ignored how discriminatory personal laws drive many women into poverty," Aruna Kashyap, Asia researcher for women's rights and author of the report, said in a statement.

"With many women precariously housed or struggling to feed themselves when their marriages break down, Bangladesh should immediately reform its personal laws, fix its family courts, and provide state assistance to poor women."

The report - based on interviews with over 250 people including aggrieved women, judges, family court lawyers, women's rights experts and government officials - said the archaic personal laws trap women in abusive marriages because they have no recourse to ensure an income.

It documented cases of women such as Shefali, a Muslim woman, whose husband kicked her and made her stand outside naked on a winter night as punishment for complaining when he chose to take a second wife. He eventually abandoned her and left her with no financial support although she had given birth to his children.

It is not just Bangladesh's Muslim women that face discrimination, said HRW, detailing how financial exclusion in family laws are also pushing such minorities as abandoned Christian and Hindu women into a hand-to-mouth existence.

More than 55 percent of girls and women in Bangladesh over the age of 10 are married. Many people see marriage as a form of economic security.

"The suffering that women go through only Allah knows," the report said, quoting an unnamed Muslim woman who struggled to afford housing and food after her husband left her.

"I wish Allah could make us men not women."

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Taliban Attacks

Taliban Attacks

Taliban bombs hit Afghan army vehicles, killing at least seven.  Full Article 

Fighting IS

Fighting IS

Australian aircraft to support U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq - PM.  Full Article | Related Story 

Monsoon Ends

Monsoon Ends

India's 2014 monsoon ends with double-digit rain deficit   Full Article 

Microsoft OS

Microsoft OS

Microsoft names next operating system 'Windows 10'  Full Article 

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong protests approach potential National Day flashpoint.  Full Article 

Ebola in U.S.

Ebola in U.S.

Traveler from Liberia is first Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S  Full Article 

Asian Games 2014

Asian Games 2014

Doping takes spotlight from teenage champs at Asian Games  Full Article 

U.S.-Afghan Pact

U.S.-Afghan Pact

U.S. signs pact to keep troops in Afghanistan past 2014  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage