As Bangladesh goes increasingly religious, sex-crime against women and children bursts. Why is it so, and what we need to do to create a world for women to live a dignified life...

Sex and love are forces that, every day, lead to new problems and new possibilities around the world. In male-dominated societies, like Bangladesh, women can often be treated as sexual objects. Women experience sexual harassment, abduction, rape, and even murder. The natural desire for sex and love has brought women unknown misery. The fact is, when a woman gets raped, it is not the woman who has sex, but the man who was the active person having sex; yet, in societies like Bangladesh, all the shame goes to the woman. The woman is the one, who is oppressed by sexual violence, may experience depression afterward, and have to bear all the shame; but the man remains unaffected.

The Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib says, "Sexual desire and anger are diffused throughout the universe. Coming and going, people suffer in pain."

Religions strictly limit people’s freedom in sex and sexuality, especially in the Indian Subcontinent. The major world-religions have a highly conservative stance on sex and love. The Bible starts with a simplistic idea of humankind’s beginning: how Adam, the first man, felt lonely; how Eve, the first women, was created from Adam’s rib as his consort; and how Adam felt satisfied as he saw his mate. This is how Abrahamic religions make women property of men, materialize the woman for man’s pleasure: the woman must make the man happy, and act as a tool for procreation to populate the world. Similarly, most other religions have, more or less, a degrading view of woman.

In Bangladesh, sex-related crimes against women and children are increasing. Crimes result from mentality of the criminal. People normally argue that people, who commit such crimes, are smaller in number than those, who oppose it.

But, then, the question is: Why does this majority, who overwhelmingly outnumber the criminals, fail to bring an end to crimes against women and children?

Why is it that we come across unsavory news-headlines like---"A juvenile girl raped by an imam in rural Bangladesh?" or, "Bangladesh: Newly married minority woman raped and killed by Muslim thugs"---on a daily basis?

Some people argue that a criminal’s mentality can be improved through the practice of religion, but, historically, and even at our present time, religions have failed to make people less criminal, including their propensity toward sexual violence.

In Bangladesh, the conservative religion of Islam dominates lives of the majority. As the country becomes increasingly religious, it runs into increasingly chaos, with bursts in sexual crimes. And the reason could lie in the fact that Islam views women as men’s property and object for their sexual pleasure. A hadith says (Tialissi):

The right of the husband is that when he calls his wife to have sex, she should not deny him herself.

The root of the problem of bursts in sexual crime in Bangladesh lies in the society’s mentality. It is not only the mentality of men that must change, but also the society’s understanding of woman that needs to become more positive, especially in regard to their role in sex and love. Many special laws have been introduced and many criminals were sentenced to death, but, in the end, there has been a failure in deterring sexual crimes against women.

We need to dig out the rotten root of religions that inspire men to be inhumane towards women. We need a global campaign to create a free and fearless world for women, where women will be equal and dignified partner of men. Only then will come the day, when women we will be able live in peace, love and dignity alongside men, not as being degraded and violated by their opposite number.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, and it is to be humble."

We need foster a religion that inspires us to think of men and women, first and foremost, as human equal and dignified beings, before our sexual differentiation.

William Gomes is a human rights worker, film director and freelance journalist in Bangladesh. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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