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Year: 2010 Type: Book Chapter Language: English

In Bangladesh there is a well-documented reign of patriarchal institutions and practices, causing women to have little control over their bodies and restricting their experience of the completeness of a vital body and a vital mind. However, this control over women’s bodies appears to be shifting, and nearly all the key elements tat constitute ‘bodily integrity’ are in a state of flux. Whether this is the beginning of a new era with weakened structures, norms and customs remains to be seen, but it certainly is a change. The male-dominated society and economy is now experiencing an increasing infiltration by women of all ages and social classes, with significant implications for siciety’s and men’s hold over women and their bodies. This paper explores the notion of ‘bodily integrity’ of women in Bangladesh under rapid social and economic transformation. The author introduces a framework linking bodily integrity and and women’s empowerment, discusses issues relating to control over and care of the body, issues of vulnerability and threats to the body. After examining the movements and struggles around women’s bodies, including some legal aspects of control, Mahmud identifies drivers of change, and discusses what could have been achieved but was not and possible future threats. In the concluding section, the paper identifies gaps in information and the scope for further research.