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ASK: Rise in gender-based violence, rape despite Covid-19

  • Published at 10:05 pm December 31st, 2020
Violence against woman
Representational photo: Bigstock

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) virtually published its annual report on Thursday

Incidents of gender-based violence and rapes increased, and the overall human rights situation in Bangladesh deteriorated in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), in its annual report published virtually on Thursday, stated that the number of incidents of rapes, border killings, women and child rights violation this year surpassed that of the previous years, although most of us were locked down inside of our homes forced by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The ASK report, which was completed based on different media reports, however, found that the number of enforced disappearances and gunfight incidents have declined in 2020 following the murder of retired army major Sinha Md Rashed Khan by police officials in Cox’s Bazar.

This year a total six people became victims of enforced disappearance or abduction, and out of them four were later shown arrested by law enforcers while two others are still missing. In 2019 this number was 13, 34 in 2018, 60 in 2017, and 97 in 2016.

ASK said, at least 188 people became victims of extrajudicial killings this year. Of the victims, 112 were killed in anti-narcotics drives. This number was 388 in 2019, 466 in 2018, 162 in 2017, 195 in 2016.

As many as 11 people were killed in the custody of law enforcers after their arrest in 2020. Of them, five were tortured to death before their formal arrest and eight others were shot dead while in custody, the report added.

Violence against women, children 

The rate of violence against women and children has significantly increased compared to the domestic violence data of previous years. A total of 160 rape incidents were reported till December 31 from October 13 – a day after the government had approved the death penalty as the highest punishment for rape.  

Border killings

Total of 49 Bangladeshi citizens – 42 shot dead – were killed along the Bangladesh-India border by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) this year. ASK said as many as 43 were killed by BSF in 2019, 14 in 2018, 24 in 2017, 31 in 2016. 

Fight for freedom of expression 

The right to freedom of expression has been violated heavily during this Covid-19 hit year, said ASK, adding that a total of 129 cases were filed under the Digital Security Act where 268 people were sued.

Abu Ahmed Faizul Kabir, ASK senior coordinator, said that opposition political parties were barred from carrying out rallies and processions.

Moreover, at least 247 journalists were harassed, attacked, physically assaulted, and sued in 2020. Of them, two were murdered.

Covid-19 situation 

According to the ASK report, from January 1 till December 30, as many as 127 doctors and 82 police officials, and RAB members died from Covid-19.

At the program, ASK Executive Director Golam Monowar Kamal presented a 10-point recommendation to improve the human rights situation in the country which includes stern action against those involved in corruption in the health sector and providing proper health services, and ensuring the rights of the country’s minorities.

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