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

WTO

TOP SHOWCASE

Truce In Gaza

Truce In Gaza

Israel, Palestinian militant groups begin 3-day Gaza truce.  Full Article 

Factory Data

Factory Data

Factories post fastest growth for 17 months in July.  Full Article 

Gold Smuggling

Gold Smuggling

In cat-and-mouse game, India uncovers new gold smuggling route.  Full Article 

Banking On 'Zest'

Banking On 'Zest'

Tata Motors bets on new sedan to revive weak India sales.  Full Article 

India-US Ties

India-US Ties

India, U.S. stress strategic ties but tensions remain.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

Moeen puts India in a spin as England level series  Full Article 

Pune Landslide

Pune Landslide

Rescuers slog through waist-deep mud to dig out submerged village houses after landslide.  Full Article 

For Tough People

For Tough People

Mountain bikers eye $1 million in 'toughest race on earth'.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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