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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Of patriarchy and gender issues

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This book written by Professor Dr. Profulla C. Sarker is thought about different dimensions of violence against women in patriarchal society. Currently he is distinguished Vice Chancellor of Royal University of Dhaka.

 This book is divided into eleven chapters of 240 pages. All of these chapters excepting the first one are independent scientific papers that were presented by the author in different international seminars, conferences, congresses, and symposia across the East and the West. All of these papers are related to gender violence in different dimensions of patriarchal social system.

This book is a compilation of these papers related to child marriage of girls, evil practice of dowry, marital status age specific rape, teasing, and sex selective fetus abortion for avoiding unwanted baby, marital dissolution of arsenic affected women, acid attack against girls, and feminization of poverty which is the product of culture in terms of customs, beliefs and value system. Consequently, women are devalued in the process of socialization.

 Under the circumstances, the women are not only victim absolute poverty, but also the victims of culture of poverty. On the other hand, human trafficking for sex trade and organ harvesting and marital dissolution in terms of desertion, separation and divorce in male dominated society are widely practiced.

All of these papers are based on the data of empirical research conducted by the author at different times. Professor P.C. Sarker highlighted that 48.5 percent population of Bangladesh is women. Every day a significant number of them are being victims of gender violence either in home or at working place or shopping center or on the transport or on the street while they were walking.

Professor Sarker rightly pointed that all the victims of gender violence are some one's daughter or sister or wife or mother or linked with any other kinship tie. It is the social responsibility of every person to protect the women who are being victims of gender violence at the individual, family, community and societal levels.

Gender violence against women is a manifestation of unequal power relations between men and women which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men. Moreover, gender violence is associated with gender specific socialization in patriarchal society, determination of appropriate gender role set, expectation of roles within the relationship.

The cultural legitimating of gender violence is included beliefs in male superiority and male's control of women's behavior which are supported by social institutions either directly or indirectly. This book focuses the patriarchal ideology determined role set of males and females at the individual, family, community and societal levels in different phases of life cycle of women. And accordingly they are socialized.

 It has been found that women are victims of violence by their husbands, family members, in laws, and the other perpetrators. The consequences of gender violence against women not only affect their socio-economic and cultural life but also devastate women health in terms of physical health, mental health, social health, intellectual health and spiritual health as well. Professor P. C. Sarker has already developed a calendar on how the women are victims of life cycle gender violence which is give below:

This calendar shows that violence takes place before birth through sex selective abortion and induces abortion of unwanted baby, buttering of pregnant women and coerced pregnancy. On the other hand, violence takes place during infancy by female infanticide, emotional and physical abuse and neglect.

Violence during childhood is identified in access to basic needs in terms of food, education, health care etc. along with socialization. Violence during adolescent period is identified in relation to teasing, trafficking, sex trade, child marriage, early motherhood, and evil practice dowry. Similarly, violence during adulthood takes place in terms of domestic violence, acid attack, rape, dowry of killing and marital dissolution is associated with desertion, separation and divorce.

The author of this book is trained in the discipline of social work, sociology and anthropology and as a result he tried to provide multidisciplinary inputs in writing this volume on different issues of gender violence against women in patriarchal society.

 This book will be able to contribute to the discipline of social work, sociology, anthropology, women and gender studies in particular and allied discipline of development studies, public health, law, gerontology, criminology, peace study and psychology in general.

While the book is architecturally well-designed with models, diagrams, graphs, references in individual chapter and very informative, some of the important concepts, which could have been expanded further, thus elucidating vital concepts with practical examples, have been kept to a minimum, probably with the objective of keeping the volume agreeable to a majority of readers.

 I do believe that the author will address such concerns and appropriately revise the text in the next edition. Despite this minor shortcoming, the book is a complete guide for those who are devoted to research. In addition, this book contribute to the planners, policy makers and practitioners to chalk out appropriate, meaningful and pragmatic policy to the improvement of quality of life of the women and their well being.


The reviewer is a Professor of
Women and Gender Studies
University of Chester, United Kingdom                                                       ------Dr. Gareth Dave

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