5 impacts of technology misuse on women in Bangladesh

February 19th, 2015

ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) have been accepted by all irrespective of status –  rural or urban, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, even though the pattern and purpose of uses differs based on their individual place in society.  They have become an everyday necessity and peoples’ lives are influenced by the use and expansion of new ICT devices.  Over the last five years I have interacted with diverse groups of people to get an overall impression of ICT use in rural Bangladesh.

imagesWU4I2Q6OCommunication by mobile phone for different purposes (like socialization, networking with different power holders, job search, professional development etc) are now common in Bangladesh. It is not a luxury nowadays but rather a tool to bridge everyday problems with possible solutions, offering hope for alternatives.

Nevertheless, despite having gigantic potential. ICTs have some negative impacts on society – they can cause road accidents since people do not stop using mobile phone while they drive and pedestrians also talk over mobile phone while they cross busy roads. These are often responsible for dangerous accidents leading several deaths or handicaps.  The law is not enough; awareness is most vital.

Here I will focus only on the negative impacts that are exclusively faced by women – which need to be recognized and addressed properly.

1. Mobiles are demanded as dowries

It is found that even though a dowry is prohibited it is still widely practiced in rural Bangladesh particularly among resource poor people. In recent days, a mobile phone has become a dowry gift which the groom or his family take as dowry. Sometimes expensive mobiles are demanded which do not correspond to their economic status in rural Bangladesh. This has a negative impact on society, violates women’s rights and promotes unlawful dowry practices.

2. Sharing intimate photos without consent

ICTs have been widely used by men for committing sexual abuse against women, particularly adolescent girls. It is widely reported that during a relationship adolescent girls are often victimized by men taking photos/videos of intimate moments. Most of the time, women do not understand when the photos were taken or video shoots were taken. While the relationship is broken up for any reason, then men start blackmailing or sharing those photos/videos in YouTube or any other social media. The girl and her family become socially isolated, lose their dignity. It has become a very common phenomenon in Bangladesh. Even though there is law against it, but like many others, it is also hardly used in practice. As a result newspapers often report the suicide of adolescent girls suicide because of releasing intimate photos or videos in social media.

3. Missed calls provoke mistrust

Missed or unwanted calls annoy people and sometimes scepticism arises among partners due to frequent disturbing calls. This can cause family misunderstanding and unrest. Women say that when they often receive calls from strangers. When they realise that the person calling does not have any business but just chatting, they usually disconnect the line, but in some cases they misbehave, which results in frequent calls from unknown numbers, even late at night.  The way to get rid of such disturbance is to block the number. But many people cannot effort this as it cost a lot. Visiting the police station to make a complaint is always horrifying for people in rural Bangladesh. Thus, while the disturbance continues, at some point husband gets sceptical to his wife (assuming something is wrong with his wife). Thus, conjugal relation and happiness are seriously affected.

4. Dangers of password sharing

Among friends password sharing is symbol of trust among ‘young people in a relationship’ which often causes embarrassment. It happens that while boy sees his girlfriend’s profile and friend list, he deletes/unfriends other boys and those he feels can be harmful for continuation of his relationship.

5. Offensive texting

mobile phoneMobile phones are widely used by boys to propose to girls (for relationships). When boys get rejected, they send rude texts to girls. When these texts get known to parents or guardians, they often further victimize girls and often this contributes to discontinuation of their studies and early marriage. There is no effective mechanism to trace the calls and caller efficiently. Tracking caller ID is possible, but as neither mobile phone operators nor Government strictly follow SIM number registration process, thus the law and policy has become simply a paper like many others, and it has no implication to victimized users.

In conclusion, it can be said that as an influencing tool for social and behavioral change, ICTs are contributing to reshaping the traditional patriarchal nature of the society and benefiting society as a whole.

As I have written in my previous posts, ICTs have huge potential but also negative impacts (because of misuse) which should not be forgotten and need to be tackled properly to reduce the harmful effect on women’s lives and for the betterment of society as a whole.

3 responses to “5 impacts of technology misuse on women in Bangladesh”

  1. Md. A. Halim Miah Says:

    This blog again raised the old issue of when any new things like technology comes in a society that deprives or exploits some groups where women are first and victims of this social transformation. It is not a new phenomenon but when we promote this initiative always we forget about human dimension rather much more profit for the cost of social instability, exploitation, marginalization and cruel to some people mainly to poor , women and children.
    The main concern and complicated things are there are two groups where business community is one side and development activists or political activists are opposition side. Relationship between these two parties are always hostiles as business community thinks those development activists are against growth and economic progress of the society and development activists perceive that corporate as against humanity or environment! We should find a border line between these two groups who will play the role of negotiator to minimizing the cost of economic, social and environmental loss of technology promotion. Are there such trusty agency/s who can give value with sound profoundness of such theoretical and practical issues of different exclusion and marginalization to play such negotiator roles in favor of sustainability and human development concern?

  2. Anytechtune Says:

    i think it is a great observation for women. thank you brother for share this info

  3. Atikur Rahman Says:

    Thank you so much for being a timely and important topic. Hope for a better post.

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