The research was conducted on 65,000 women and children in 53 districts
Around 30% of domestic violence survivors in Bangladesh have become victims of different forms of violence including physical torture, mental torture, economic torture and sexual torture for the first time during the pandemic, recent research has found.
The findings of the research “Life in the time of coronavirus: A gendered perspective”, jointly conducted by Manusher Jonno Foundation and Brac James P Grant School of Public Health were revealed at a webinar on Wednesday.
The research was conducted on 65,000 women and children in 53 districts of Bangladesh.
Of the 38,485 women who admitted to facing some sort of domestic violence since Covid-19-hit Bangladesh, 11,529 (30%) women said they had never faced any domestic violence before the pandemic.
Altogether 46% said they faced mental torture, 20% said they faced physical violence, 31% said they dealt with economic torture and 3% admitted to facing sexual abuse.
The research also found that men demanded more physical relations from their wives – adding to the physical and emotional burden on women during the lockdown.
A 23-year-old woman in Nilphamari told the researchers: “My husband stayed at home and asked for physical relations, but I was too tired after doing all the household chores. I did not feel comfortable and I did not have any interest in having sex.
“Therefore, we had fights. My husband became violent and tortured me mentally and physically often.”
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), said that many men said that they had lost their livelihood to Covid-19 and were forced to stay at home and therefore they took out their frustrations on their families.
“Women have gone through the same uncertainties and mental trauma triggered by the global health crisis, but they did not raise their hands on their husbands. Violence against women should not be condoned,” she said at the webinar.
Shahana Siddiqui, one of the researchers of BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health, said that women had become increasingly vulnerable to physical and mental abuse caused by domestic and intimate partner violence. All issues pertaining to women – health, finance, education, social life – were considered secondary to male emotional and financial problems in the household.
Parliamentarian and human rights activist Aroma Dutta MP said both girls and boys were unable to go to school because of the pandemic but only the girl child was seen as a burden to many families.
“Why are girl children becoming victims of child marriage because the schools are closed?” she questioned.
She suggested that an 18-month plan was needed to prepare and train girls and women to earn a livelihood from their homes.
“A combined effort from the government and non-governmental organizations is needed to help these girls and women to have a dignified life,” she suggested.