“Break the Silence Bangladesh”: Examining “everyday” experiences of sexual violence through online activism

Authored by: Rashaam Chowdhury and Bianca Fileborn

Categories: Global Public Health, Human Rights
Sub-Categories: Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV)
Country: Bangladesh
Region: South and Central Asia
Year: 2020
Citation: Chowdhury, Rashaam, and Bianca Fileborn. “‘Break the Silence Bangladesh’: Examining ‘Everyday’ Experiences of Sexual Violence through Online Activism.” Women's Studies International Forum 81 (May 2020).

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In 2015, the Pahela Baishakh (Bengali New Year) celebrations in Bangladesh were marred by incidents of mass sexual assaults. This incident generated widespread public discussion, and many survivors took to the digital realm to disclose their own experiences. Break the Silence Bangladesh was a Facebook page established to provide a space for shared disclosure, support and consciousness-raising. In this paper, we analyse 61 submissions made to the page, which provide vital insights into experiences of sexual violence in Bangladesh outside of the dominant frame of domestic and intimate partner violence. Findings point to the diverse range of contexts in which sexual violence occurs, the roles of class and space in shaping this violence, and the ongoing impact of cultures of shame and stigma in preventing disclosure and bystander intervention. This work highlights the need to expand the scope of contemporary research and policy responses to sexual violence in Bangladesh.