Research by MJF shows that only 25% of indigenous families in the hilly areas received government incentives
Life has become more difficult for indigenous women after the coronavirus and they have become more marginalised, say experts.
The remarks were made at an online discussion, titled “Job crisis and safety of indigenous women in Covid situation,” by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) on Thursday.
The speakers said that closure of the tourism sector, no sales, and closing down businesses and beauty parlours have made marginalized women even more marginalized.
According to the speakers, a decline in women’s income has not only increased domestic violence but the closure of educational institutes has led to a rise in child marriage.
Moreover, since there is no safety net for these indigenous women, they are also deprived of government help.
According to MJF, an indigenous woman has to face multifaceted discrimination; first as a woman, then as an indigenous person and then as an indigenous woman. Due to the heavily patriarchal society, they are not part of the decision-making process.
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MFJ President Shaheen Anam said that the indigenous women have seen no development for themselves in the job sector.
Lawmaker Aroma Dutta, who was the chief guest at the program, said that even though there were government-approved incentive packages for indigenous people, they were not distributed properly. She emphasized making good on the promises and solving the issues zone-by-zone.
Advocate Sultana Kamal, who served as an advisor to a caretaker government, said “we need to ask why the anti-discriminatory laws have not yet been passed.”
Dhaka University Sociology Department Dean Dr Sadeka Halim said that research on violence against women as well as the formation of an indigenous committee was imperative to tackling the issue.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Social Development advisor (Governance) Tahera Jabin said that the British government has always worked for the development of the indigenous people and through MJF, they are trying to provide funding and training for these people during the pandemic.
The speakers said that farmers were also in a tough spot, not being able to sell crops amid the pandemic and their debts rising as well.
Research by MJF shows that only 25% of indigenous families in the hilly areas combined received government incentives.
The research notes that there is a massive food crisis in those regions.
The MJF said that it remains to be seen whether indigenous children can return to school, given that the remote hilly areas are devoid of electricity, smartphones, computers and other technological privileges.
These children are at risk of child marriage and many will start working, becoming vulnerable to trafficking.
The foundation stressed exemplary punishment for violence against indigenous women and children as well as providing them with medical and legal aid.