August 14, 2014
The Development of Women's Social Status in Bangladesh
The phenomena that I will discuss in this paper is, how women had developed their social status in society and how it was established. Bangladesh is the 3rd largest Muslim country by population after Indonesia and Pakistan. Its population is over 150 million, with over 90% with over 90% of those Muslim. Islam plays an important role in the culture, economy and everyday life of the people in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, Bangladesh is a poverty stricken, backward, and illiterate country. More 80% of the population falls under poverty levels due to lack of income and resources. Since Bangladesh is officially a Muslim country, they do not treat women equally to men, using Sharia law as legal pretext. There is extreme gender discrimination and low status for women in society. This low status is dictated by the society and stems from cultural norms and traditional values. Bangladesh is a very recently developed country, gaining it's independence in 1971 and has yet to make many reforms.
In Bangladesh, giving birth to a baby girl is known to be bad luck. At such high poverty levels, providing for a daughter is a burden. What is surprising is that women have a lower life expectancy than males in Bangladesh because families would rather feed their sons than their daughters. From the lack of food and nutrients, women are often the most malnourished. When left with no other options, families tend to sell their daughters as slaves to smugglers. Other cultural norms are to marry off their daughters at the age of 11, 12 or 13 to relieve them of their burden on the family. To prevent such illegal marriages from taking place, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was put in action in 1929.