Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


In 2011, an incident involving Professor Rumana Manzur of Dhaka University brought the topic of domestic violence in Bangladesh into main stream discussions. Professor Manzur’s husband of ten years, Hasan Syeed Sumon, had tried to gauge out both of her eyes by using his fingers, bit her nose and left her severely injured while they fought in her father’s residence in Dhaka. This incident shocked the whole country as well as diasporas abroad and forced the society to address the legal and societal loopholes to effectively combat this issue. Bangladesh has displayed an understanding of and respect for women’s rights in Bangladeshi society. Since the 1980s, the country has enacted special laws protecting women against violence. It has been led by female heads of state since 1991, over 25 years, and has made significant progress in terms of gender development. Despite this understanding, most of the comments in news outlets raised questions about Professor Manzur’s infidelity within her marriage as if to investigate ‘whether she deserved it’. This incident broke at least two conventional attitudes towards domestic violence: society became aware of the fact that it can happen to the most privileged and the highest educated women and learned that popular sentiments have not caught up with the law over many issues. For Bangladesh, the problem of domestic violence thus needs a two-prone response: legal enforcement and a community wide awareness campaign.

This article analyzes the Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act of 2010 and recommends a holistic approach in eradicating domestic violence in Bangladesh. This article will first review domestic violence legislation under international law. Next, this article will review domestic violence legislation in Bangladesh, focusing on the Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection Act of 2010. Finally, this article will offer recommendations on combating the issue of domestic violence and furthering women’s rights in Bangladesh.

First Page