Women Empowering Women (WEW) and Bangladesh Organization for Learning & Development (BOLD) will be jointly organizing a webinar titled “Domestic violence during the time of corona” which will take place on 3 July 2020 from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
This initiative is meant to generate dialogue among a selected number of women right activists, psychologists, subject matter experts, lawyers and policy makers and solutions givers.
THE COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone, everywhere around the world. However, it is affecting different groups of people differently and bringing to the fore existing inequalities. The pandemic has not only a huge death rate but also has devastating socio-economic consequences for different vulnerable groups such as elderly people, women, children and ethnic people. These groups are more exposed to vulnerabilities. Social distancing and home quarantine are successful strategies to ensure sanitization, hygiene and disinfection that are in practice around the world.
However, the safest place ‘home’ is being the most unsafe place for one group of people who may suffer differently and severely from this social distancing and home quarantine — the victims/survivors of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. Recent studies indicate that restrictions on movement imposed by countries around the world have forced people to spend much more time at home which has led to a surge in domestic abuse cases. The current pandemic presents a combination of economic and health uncertainties that stimulated an increase in domestic violence all over the world.
Statistics show that domestic violence is the most widespread, but among the least reported human rights abuses. According to the World Health Organisation, one in every three women around the world experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. Further, research has identified that during a crisis period the risk of domestic violence escalates as perpetrators seek to maintain a sense of power and control in their lives. The risk of domestic violence has increased because of COVID-19. Mounting data indicate that domestic abuse is acting as an opportunistic infection, flourishing in the conditions created by the pandemic.
The situation is no different in Bangladesh. Violence against women and children is on the rise in Bangladesh amid the COVID-19 lockdown, according to different reports. Experts say a lack of social activities and financial pressures are increasing rifts within families.
In the case of domestic abuse, much of it happens at the hand of members of the family who abuse, assault, humiliate and torture women and children. According to a survey by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), a local human rights organization, at least 4,249 women and 456 children were subjected to domestic violence in 27 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh in April, with 1,672 women and 424 children facing violence for the first time in their lives. A total of 13,494 women and children have fallen victim to various forms of domestic violence during the lockdown in 53 selected districts of Bangladesh in May. Of them, 2,841 women and 1,319 children experienced violence for the first time in their life. The study did not limit the types of violence to physical abuse only, it also included participants who endured mental, economic, physical and sexual torture, as well.
A total of 11,025 women endured domestic violence, 179 survived sexual harassments, 54 were sexually harassed while receiving aid, 48 survived rape and attempted rape and 17 were murdered. Accoridng to the report of Ain O Shalish Kendro, a total 86 women were murdered by their husbands in Bangladesh from January to May 2020. Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association has already reported a sharp rise in sexual violence including rape in February 2020. It is also predicted that unreported cases of domestic violence have also risen sharply during this pandemic period.
Maximum women who faced domestic violence for the first time, blamed the lockdown for their situation. Men are becoming increasingly frustrated at home due to a lack of social interaction and losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Some are venting their frustration by torturing their wives. Therefore, the home quarantine has become a double-edged sword for women and children in Bangladesh as it is apparently the only way to contain the spread of the virus, however, it also triggered an increase in domestic violence.
It’s high time for Bangladesh to address the issue, take immediate measures and put women and children’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic. It is an urgent call for Bangladesh to take immediate steps to protect women and children by expanding the appropriate support services. Gender equality and rights of women and children are essential to get through this pandemic together, to recover faster, and to build a better future for everyone.
Considering the context, WEW and Bangladesh Organization for Learning & Development is going to arrange a webinar together with the women rights activists, experts from Govt and NGOs, lawyers, policy makers and journalists to address the issues and discuss the course of action.
The discussion will be covering below:
1. The root causes of the upraise of domestic violence on women and children in Bangladesh in COVID days
2. What course of action should be taken to reduce social acceptance of violence against women and domestic violence and enhance the process of gender equality in family, society and state and make Bangladesh safer for women.
3. Collective and visible stand on violence against women by different section of people.
4. What are the roles and responsibilities of leaders, policy makers, civil society members, young people, responsible citizens, academic institutions, political parties, business houses, communication and media houses, law makers and implementers to stop domestic violence against women in Bangladesh.
ISMAT JAHAN LISSA
Founding Member, Women Empowering Women( WEW)
Chair, Women Leadership Development Committee
Bangladesh Organization for Learning & Development (BOLD)
Founder and Lead Counselor, Reflection-Holistic Development
Founder and Facilitator, Anandajatra
Former Research Investigator, icddrb
SAYEDA FERDOUS AHMED
Lawyer, Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Managing Director, Avenue Law Firm
Founder Chairman, Justice Vision Foundation (JVF)
ARIFA AS ALAM
Acid Survivors Foundation