Most Bangladeshi adolescents have experienced at least one form of age- or gender-based violence. Levels of corporal punishment remain high, in schools and in homes, and boys are at risk of physical violence from peers and adults. Sexual harassment and assault is endemic, and one of the most influential factors shaping girls’ lives. While child marriage appears to be declining, this is uneven, and increasing fears for girls’ safety could potentially reverse this trend, as has happened in the Rohingya refugee camps.
Reducing adolescents’ vulnerability to these threats depends not on legal frameworks, which already exist, but on more effective law enforcement. The trust that adolescents and their families have that the law will be upheld is threatened by the increasingly politicised nature of the legal system, particularly in slums, where mastaans (gangsters) mediate access to services (Devine and Wood, 2017).
This brief discusses adolescents’ experiences of gender-based violence, child marriage, sexual harassment, physical and sexual violence, psychological and emotional violence, online violence, corporal punishment and bullying. It draws on evidence from GAGE (Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence) – a unique longitudinal mixed-methods research and impact evaluation study focused on what works to support the development of adolescents’ capabilities during the second decade of life (10–19 years).
Mitu, K., Ala Uddin, M., Camfield, L. and Muz, J. (2019) ‘Adolescent bodily integrity and freedom from violence in Chittagong, Bangladesh.’ Policy Note. London: Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence. (https://www.gage.odi.org/publication/adolescent-bodily-integrity-and-freedom-from-violence-in-chittagong-bangladesh/)