The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) examined the government of Bangladesh in November 2016. In its Concluding Observations (CEDAW/C/BGD/CO/8), issued on 18 November, the Committee voiced its concerns about the lack of protection and access to resources for Dalit women, the lack of disaggregated data, and encouraged the government to adopt the long-awaited Anti-Discrimination Bill, including measures to address caste-based discrimination.

Prior to the review IDSN and BDERM submitted an alternative report, emphasising intersecting discrimination, affecting Dalit women in Bangladesh.

Abstracts from the CEDAW Concluding Observations – Bangladesh 2016

Find a link to the Concluding Observations, the state report, alternative reports from civil society organisations and the delegation’s statement here

Legislative framework

  1. The Committee notes with concern that many discriminatory laws and provisions remain in the national legislation, such as different definitions of a girl child and boy child in various acts, restrictive scope of marital rape in the criminal code, and the lack of jurisdiction of special tribunals for violence against women to hear cases of discrimination against women. It is also concerned that the personal status laws of the State party regulating marriage, divorce, inheritance, guardianship and custodial rights within various religious groups continue to discriminate against women and girls and that the State party is yet to consider adopting a unified family code. It is further concerned about the State party’s failure to adopt the long-awaited Anti-Discrimination Bill and about the lack of implementation of the provisions of the Constitution and existing laws on the women’s and girls’ rights due in part to prevailing patriarchal attitudes in the State party.
  1. (c) Accelerate the adoption of the Anti-Discrimination Law, which is in compliance with the Convention within a specific time frame.

Disadvantaged groups of women

  1. The Committee is concerned that disadvantaged groups of women and girls, including Dalit women, women with disabilities, elderly women, Rohingya refugee women and women of ethnic minorities face multiple intersecting forms of discrimination due to their gender, health, indigenous identity, caste and socio-economic status. The Committee is in particular concerned about:
  1. (c) Abductions, sexual harassment, rape, intimidation and lack of access to public services and resources for Dalit women; and

Data collection and analysis

  1. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to collect data in all areas covered under the Convention. The data should disaggregated by sex, age, ethnicity, religious background, socio-economic status, including caste, marital status and others.
In September 2015, Bangladesh was examined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at its 70th session. Ahead of the session IDSN submitted an NGO report on Dalit children in Bangladesh, addressing the CRC special protection measures cluster and specifically article 30 on children belonging to a minority or an indigenous group.

Abstracts from the CRC Concluding Observations – Bangladesh 2015

In their Concluding Observations the Committee noted continued discrimination of Dalit children in relation to General Principles and Special Protection Meassures:

Non-discrimination:

  • 24. While noting the State party’s efforts to combat discrimination, the Committee reiterates its previous concern (CRC/C/BGD/CO/4, para.32) that discrimination against certain groups of children, particularly girls, children with disabilities, children of ethnic and religious minorities, in particular Dalit and indigenous children, children living in rural areas, refugee and asylum-seeking children and children in street situations still exists in practice.

Children belonging to minority or indigenous groups:

  • 72. The Committee is concerned that children from minority groups, in particular Dalit children, and indigenous children face discrimination and violence, and lack access to quality education, in particular to education in their mother tongue. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of recognition of indigenous identity of the Adivasi (indigenous peoples) by the State party.
The Government of Bangladesh was examined by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in January 2011. In its Concluding Observations (CEDAW/C/BGD/CO/7), issued on 4 February, the Committee voiced its concern at the lack of information and statistics on Dalit women and recommended that Bangladesh collect such data and take measures to eliminate discrimination against them.

In 2010, a coalition of NGOs had submitted an alternative report, which contained numerous references to Dalit women. The report noted that the Government has national as well as international obligations to promote and protect the rights of Dalit women. Find specific references to Dalit women in the alternative report.

Abstracts from the CEDAW Concluding Observations – Bangladesh 2011

Find a link to the Concluding Observations, the state report, alternative reports from civil society organisations and the delegation’s statement here

Disadvantaged groups of women

  • 37. The Committee is concerned at the very limited information and statistics provided on disadvantaged groups of women and girls, including minority women such as Dalit women, migrant women, refugee women, older women, women with disabilities and girls living on the streets. The Committee is also concerned that those women and girls often suffer from multiple forms of discrimination, especially with regard to access to education, employment and health care, housing, protection from violence and access to justice.
  • 38. The Committee recommends that the State party:
    • a. Collect disaggregated data on the situation of disadvantaged groups of women facing multiple forms of discrimination and adopt pro-active measures, including temporary special measures, to eliminate such discrimination and protect them from violence and abuse;
The Government of Bangladesh was examined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in May 2009. On 12 June the Committee issued its Concluding Observations (CRC/C/BGD/CO/4) which contains some interesting observations on data collection, non-discrimination principle, poverty eradication, social and economic rights, the role of civil society, and independent monitoring by the NHRC. There are however no direct references to the situation of Dalit children or the sweeping community in Bangladesh, but to ‘children in slums and rural areas’.

Find more information, including link to the Concluding Observations, the state report and the delegation’s statement here

Abstract from the Concluding Observations – Bangladesh 2009

Non-discrimination

  • 32. While noting the State party’s commitment in its Constitution and “Vision 2021” to create an equitable, just and non-discriminatory society, the Committee is nevertheless concerned that the principle of non-discrimination contained in article 2 of the Convention is not fully respected in practice. Girls continue to face discrimination and disparities, particularly with regard to healthcare, nutrition and early marriage, as do particular groups of children, including refugee children, children with disabilities, children in slums and rural areas and children of ethnic and religious minorities. The Committee is also concerned that children face discrimination on the basis of social origin, or other status of their parents.
  • 33. The Committee strongly recommends that the principle of non-discrimination, as provided for under article 2 of the Convention, be fully and vigorously applied by the State party and integrated into the implementation of all other articles to guarantee, without discrimination, the rights set out in the Convention. The Committee further recommends that the State party take the necessary measures to ensure that efforts to address persistent discrimination and reduce disparities are adequate and effective in the family, schools and other settings, and in particular among marginalized and excluded children, including girls, children of ethnic minorities and refugee children.

The Government is requested to report back to the Committee in 2012 

The Government of Bangladesh was examined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in September 2003. On 3 October 2003, the Committee issued its Concluding Observations (CRC/C/15/Add.221) and noted among other things the following:

  • 28. The Committee welcomes the measures undertaken by the State party to enhance the situation of girls, especially in relation to education. It remains deeply concerned about persistent discriminatory attitudes towards girls, which are deeply rooted in traditional stereotypes and limit access to resources and services. The Committee is also concerned about discrimination against children with disabilities, street children, child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, tribal children and other vulnerable groups.
  • 29. The Committee recommends that the State party take adequate measures to ensure implementation of the principle of non-discrimination in full compliance with article 2 of the Convention, and strengthen its proactive and comprehensive efforts to eliminate discrimination on any grounds and against all vulnerable groups. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake an education campaign for boys and men on gender issues and sex discrimination.
  • 79. The Committee is deeply concerned about the poor situation of children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and other religious, national and ethnic minorities, tribal groups or similar marginalized groups and the lack of respect for their rights, including the rights to food, to health care, to education and to survival and development, to enjoy their own culture and to be protected from discrimination.
  • 80. The Committee urges the State party to gather additional information on all minorities or similar marginalized groups of the population, and to elaborate policies and programmes to ensure the implementation of their rights without discrimination, taking into account the Committee’s recommendations adopted at its day of general discussion on the theme “The rights of indigenous children”.

The Committee invites the State party to submit its third and fourth periodic reports in one consolidated report by 1 September 2007, the date on which the fourth report is due.

In 2001, the CERD Committe examined Bangladesh and recommended in its Concluding Observations that the State Party should report on discrimination based on caste in its next submission.

  • 11. With regard to the interpretation of the definition of racial discrimination contained in article 1 of the Convention, the Committee considers that the term “descent” does not refer solely to race or ethnic or national origin, and is of the view that the situation with respect to castes falls within the scope of the Convention.  The Committee therefore recommends that the State party include in its next report relevant information about the enjoyment of the rights contained in article 5 of the Convention by all groups, including castes.

The submission of the next periodic report by the State party is long overdue, as the deadline was in July 2002.