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Adolescent bodily integrity and freedom from violence in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Adolescent boys in Dhaka. Photo: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

Authors

Farhana Alam
Sabina Faiz Rashid
Laura Camfield
Maheen Sultan
Malisha Farzana,
Anushka Zafar
Riaz Hossain
Jennifer Muz

Publication type:
Policy briefs and policy notes
Date: July 2019

In Bangladesh, the use of violence is a common method of discipline. Parental physical punishment is sanctioned by culture and values. The use of violence is not only practised at homes but also perpetuated in many educational institutions as well.

Physical violence against girls and women is particularly common in Bangladesh and is closely linked to the low status assigned to them. Adolescent girls face a plethora of other forms of violence such as verbal abuse and harassment, physical violence and sexual violence.

This brief looks at physical violence experienced by adolescents, including corporal punishment, and sexual and gender-based violence, including child marriage. It then draws out the ways in which gender and disability shape adolescents’ experiences, before outlining some implications for policy.

In Dhaka, baseline data collection entailed quantitative survey interviews with 780 adolescent girls and boys that were complemented by in-depth qualitative work and more in-depth qualitative research involving 36 nodal adolescents, their parents and communities to better understand the experience and perspective of young people.

We found that physical violence was a common fear and had been experienced by most adolescents in all three sites. Adolescents with disability face more teasing in school than their non-disabled peers, although there is no evidence that they are punished more. Younger adolescents experience violence primarily from family members, relatives, neighbours, other adult males and teachers. Older adolescents also experience violence from employers, with many working in the informal economy. Boys were more likely to report experiencing physical violence than girls.

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