Marginalisation and Impunity: Violence Against Women and Girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
This report examines selected cases of violence against women and girls in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in 2011 and 2012. It also discusses relevant legal contexts and, based on four key principles, provides recommendations to the government and civil society to address violence against women and girls in the region. The report emphasises that militarisation and transmigration programs illegally settling Bengalis in the CHT that started in full swing from 1976 onwards have created extreme vulnerability and poverty for the Indigenous Peoples, and have deeply affected indigenous women and girls' safety and security in the CHT.
International Conventions to Secure Women’s Rights
Bangladesh is a signatory to a number of international conventions intended to secure women's rights. Drawing from various international human rights instruments, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), 2007; the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, 1979 (CEDAW); the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 1993 (DEVAW) Impunity has been the single most important factor contributing to increased incidents of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in the CHT. The biases of the administrative, political and judicial systems prevent access to equality and justice by Indigenous Peoples and minorities. This report stresses that the relationship of Indigenous Peoples with law enforcement agencies is vitally important in the CHT. Local authorities and police stations have more political influence and fewer financial resources, both factors that can be obstacles in addressing SGBV.
Recommendations of the report
Based on the following key principles, the CHT violence against women (VAW) study provides specific recommendations to the Government of Bangladesh and to civil society: • A strong political will to bring peace and stability in the CHT must begin with the demilitarisation of the region as stipulated in the 1997 CHT Accord. Demilitarisation of the CHT, a complete cessation of Bengali in-migration to the CHT, and good governance are preconditions to achieving peace in the CHT. • Voluntary resettlement of Bengalis who have illegally occupied lands that belong to the Indigenous Peoples must be carried out systematically by the state authorities. • Sustainable gender-sensitive and gender-responsive development projects combating the poverty and inequality of indigenous communities in the region must be endorsed. • All stakeholders must recognise that the end to impunity is fundamental and urgent, and that without adequate, effective and impartial enforcement of relevant laws, violence against indigenous women and girls cannot be mitigated.