The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) undertook the study on “Missing Dynamics of Spousal Violence Discourse in Bangladesh Measuring the Economic Costs” in view of the fact that violence perpetrated by husbands has serious social and economic consequences. This study, first of its kind in Bangladesh, has performed in-depth interviews of 200 revealed cases on the basis of a structured questionnaire. These victims have experienced spousal violence, sought help from the human and women rights organisations and have gone through the ordeals of dealing with their lives during and after the violence. Their sufferings due to spousal involved significant costs in order to avail health care, shelter, criminal justice, legal service, and social service.
The study finds that total cost per victim for getting these services was Taka 18,917. Based on this estimate this study has done a ‘back of the envelope’ estimation to get the national estimate. Extrapolating the costs per victim for all the women who suffer from spousal violence this study finds that the cost of spousal violence represents 2.86 per cent of the gross domestic product of Bangladesh. Though this figure is only an indication of the magnitude of the economic costs, and several caveats may be attached to it, it should also be remembered that it is in fact an underestimation of the real costs since the psychological and non-monetary social costs could not be quantified in this study.
The findings of the study have been an eye opener for the researchers, activists, service providers and policy makers and can be used as a basis for policy intervention in the form of more resource allocation, and formulation and implementation of law against domestic violence and execution of various programmes to put a stop to domestic violence against women.
The study received due attention of the policy makers. CPD organized a national dialogue on 9th August 2008 to disseminate the findings of the study. The then Minister for Women and Children Affairs Mrs Rasheda K Chowdhury attended the dialogue as the Chief Guest. The Minister lauded the study and committed that the government would enact law against domestic violence. The National Parliament of Bangladesh passed a bill on 5 October 2010 titled ‘Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2010 in order to protect women and children from physical, sexual and psychological abuse and other forms of domestic violence. This bill was the outcome of long standing efforts by various sections of people in the society. These include among others the activist organizations, political parties, NGOs, CSOs, think tanks, advocacy groups and other stakeholders. CPD is pleased to make its contribution through evidence-based research in the effort to stop violence against women.