Although staying indoors amid the Covid-19 epidemic has contributed to reining in various forms of crime, the country has seen a rise in incidents of domestic violence against women and children.
Human rights activists have blamed the monotony of stay-at-home life, mental instability, tension and unemployment for the abuse of women.They said those who mistreated have now become more violent and those who never resorted to violence have now become aggressive.
Experts said violence against women and girls is of great concern even during the coronavirus pandemic.
The domestic violence has escalated according to the data from the national helpline 999 and cyber crime unit, Sadira Khatun, superintendent of police at Police Headquarters, said recently during an online seminar titled "Behind the closed doors: Rise of domestic violence during lockdown".
She said, “The cyber-crime department is assisting women and girls. We are also giving mental support and counselling through women support centre. Recently, two female officers have been appointed to provide support for cyber crime victims.”
According to a survey conducted by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) 13,494 women and children were subjected to violence around the country last month.
Among the victims, 11,323 are women and 2,171 children. And some 4,160 were victimised for the first time.Violence against women and children increased 31 percent in May in comparison with the data of April.
The MJF came up with the findings from a survey titled ‘Telephone Survey on Violence against Women and Children: Covid-19’.
Citing data received from telephonic conversation with 53,340 victims from 53 districts, MJF said 19 children were killed in May.
Among the 11,323 women victims, 11,025 women faced domestic violence in May. Of them, 404 were sexually abused while 4,947 were tortured mentally. A total of 3,589 were victims of economic torture (taking away money forcibly by their husbands and relatives) while 2,085 fell victim to torture.
On the other hand, 233 women were sexually harassed while 48 were raped or attempts were made to violate them. Seventeen women were killed in that month, according to the survey.
Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam has expressed grave concern over the spiralling trend of violence against women and children.
She urged the government to put more emphasis on prevention of domestic violence alongside focusing on other things.
“To curb violence against women and children, we recommended prioritizing this issue in national Covid-19 response plan, arranging shelter for women who have to leave home due to violence, and taking up more cases on virtual courts and special tribunals” she said.
Maleka Banu, General Secretary of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, told daily sun: “Women and girls are being subjected to various forms of violence in many parts of the country.
“And the husbands are principally involved in this torture. Many of them have no job, no income; there’s no food in the house. They can't go outside; they can't hang out. And some people are blaming the women for all of these.
“Women face discrimination, inequalities, and exploitation differently than men during any natural disaster, conflicting situation or any other emergency. The same is happening due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
“Although cases of violence against women and children occur daily across Bangladesh, a large number of incidents of sexual violence and rape go underreported.
“These women victims are also being deprived of legal assistance due to the ongoing situation.
“At this period of time, the opportunity for women to complain has shrunk, as many cannot go outside. Besides, everyone, including the husband, is at home and that’s the reason why they (women) cannot lodge complaints over phone.”