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MJF: 13,494 women, children faced domestic violence during Covid-19 lockdown

  • Published at 08:26 pm June 10th, 2020
Domestic Violence
Representational photo: Bigstock

The tele-survey was conducted on 53,340 women and children in 53 districts of Bangladesh

A total of 13,494 women and children have fallen victim to various forms of domestic violence during the lockdown across the country in May, according to a report of Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF). 

The organization, however, assumes that the statistic does not reveal the real scenario of violence against children and women which is happening all over the country amid the lockdown situation.

The tele-survey, conducted on 53,340 women and children, found 11,323 women and 2,171 children were subjected to domestic violence in 53 selected districts of Bangladesh. 

Of them, 2,841 women and 1,319 children experienced violence for the first time in their life. 

The MJF revealed these findings at an online press conference on "Violence against Women and Children: Covid-19" on Wednesday.

MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam, while presenting the findings, said the survey has its limitations since they could not conduct in-person interviews with the participants.

“I believe the real picture is much more horrifying. We could not reach out to women who do not own phones since it was a telephonic survey,” said Anam. 

Some women did not feel comfortable sharing their experience over the phone because their abusers or family members were around them during the conversation.

Some of them said they have bigger issues like hunger and poverty than to deal with domestic abuse, while some of them simply did not want to expose it to their partners and family. 

The survey did not limit the types of violence to physical abuse only. They surveyed participants who also 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. 

The financial crisis caused by the lockdown is crucial

The financial crisis caused by the lockdown situation is a crucial factor, which makes the situation worse for many women as the abusers feel entitled to do so out of frustration.

Moreover, the restriction of movement has made them stay at home and women could not contribute to their family financially.

Rahima Sultana, executive director of Abhash, a sister concern of MJF, shared an anecdote to portray the violence against women and children happening across the country.

When Bangladesh was at the initial stage of the pandemic, a 17-year-old girl of a remote village in Barisal was hanged to death by her in-laws. Later, they put her body down and poured poison into her mouth in a bid to show the incident as a suicide.

“She lived in a remote village where the law enforcing agencies rarely intervene. On top of that, the lockdown situation has made it more difficult for people to reach out to police for help,” she said.

A total of 1621 children endured domestic violence, 19 survived rape, 67 faced violence at work, 19 were murdered, 18 survived attempted rape, 21 were kidnapped and 170 were married off before legal age, and three were sexually harassed while receiving aid.  

A total of 233 child marriages were stopped in May. 

Anam went on saying that the children who were saved from child marriage in May might become a victim of early marriage again.

Anam recommended different measures including online schooling for everyone so that girls do not drop out of school. 

The dropouts might not get back to school and they will eventually get married off. 

Farida Yesmin, executive director of Disabled Rehabilitation and Research Association (DRRA), said the plight of people with disabilities has increased manifold as they were already a neglected member in many families. 

Restriction in movements is not allowing them to go out and contribute to their family and therefore they are being treated as a burden.

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