|The man to die is Nazrul Islam of Char Monsha village under Sadar Upazila. The prosecution alleged that Nazrul Islam after his marriage with Lyzu Begum pressed her to bring a dowry from her father. Physical torture on Lyzu became a regular feature. On July 9, 2003 Nazrul picked a quarrel with his wife as she failed to comply with his demand for dowry and beat her to death.|
What appears to be the anomaly in this story is that the man was convicted.
Bangladesh is a desperately poor country. Domestic violence is so prevalent that women have resigned themselves to the grim facts of married life.
|Dowry demands and the stress and hardship they impose on many families and on new brides [are] of paramount consideration in decision-making about marriage…—a consideration that increasingly seems to dwarf all others, such as social status or the quality of the groom and his family… For most [families]… managing a daughter’s marriage negotiations is an agonizing process fraught with tension and fear. The economic burden of dowry can be high—even exorbitant—but mothers often reported feeling that dowry is necessary for their daughters’ well-being…these concerns can clearly translate into downward pressure on age at marriage, because young women’s marriageability is believed to diminish with age, not least because of concerns about “sexual purity”; mothers feared that they would have to pay higher dowry to find acceptable husbands for older daughters. Although numerous women expressed a strong desire to educate their daughters, the apparent social and, increasingly, economic imperative to marry daughters early is likely to compromise girls’ educational attainment and undermine the potential for girls’ increased education to translate into delayed marriage.|
As it is in India, so in Bangladesh: very young women — girls, really — are married off to older men. In what should function as a kind of economic surety for the girls, the dowry that accompanies marriage is used by the husband and his family for their own purposes. Once used up, the girl is pressured to return to her family for further extractions of money.
|Domestic violence is used in both Bangladesh and India to extort dowry payments and other property from the families of young married women. Violence—often of escalating severity over time—may be perpetrated against women in conjunction with demands for outstanding (often unaffordable) dowry payments or demands for additional amounts. In a study in India, perceived dowry inadequacy was one of the main reasons.|
So there you have it. A nicely packaged equation: poverty breeds domestic violence. The implied solution is to raise the education and income levels of the rural poor. Right?
But it’s not that simple. What actually happens is that violence rises in tandem with the rise in education, and not merely the education of women.
| Thirty-two percent of men with zero years of education and 42 percent men with one-to-five years of education reported sexual violence. Among men with six-to-10 years of education–as well as those with high-school education and higher–this figure increased to 57 percent.
A similar pattern was seen when the problem was analyzed according to income and socioeconomic standing. Those at the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder–migrant labor, cobblers, carpenters, and barbers–showed a sexual violence rate of 35 percent. The rate almost doubled to 61 percent among the highest income groups.*
Spreading the idea of democracy is difficult enough., but democracy and the rule of law, while necessary, are not sufficient for the experience of freedom. For authentic freedom to exist, there has to be liberty and liberty is a radical concept.
Personal liberty is the most radical concept of all.