Dhaka, June 10, 2020: During the lockdown in May, some 13,494 women and children became victims of violence in 53 districts of the country. Of these, 4,180 women and children became victims for the first time. The rate of violence against women and children has increased by 31 percent, compared to domestic violence data of April 2020.
Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) collected this information in May by talking to a total of 53,340 women and children from its project areas to find out how women and children are coping during Covid situation. In spite of many challenges in data collection, 36,434 women and 15,908 children responded to telephone interviews. The children are all teenagers.
Among new women and children victims, 1319 are children which is 81 percent while 2641 are women which is 25 percent. This means that eight out of 10 children became new victims of violence. One-fourth women became new victims during May.
MJF presented the findings of ‘Telephone Survey on Violence against Women and Children: Covid-19’ through an online conference this morning. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, MJF presented salient features of the findings.
It was revealed that out total 11,323 oppressed women, 11,025 or 98.4 per cent women were victims of domestic violence.
Among domestic violence cases, 4946 or 45 percent of the victims are women. Of them, 3569 or 33 percent victims of economic violence, 2065 victims or 19 percent victims of physical abuse and 404 victims or 4 percent victims of sexual harassment. There are also incidences of rape, attempted rape, sexual harassment and murder. Some women were sexually harassed while collecting relief material.
Revealing this information MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said that compared to data of April, the trend is very alarming and “the situation is more gruesome”. Ms. Anam urged the government to put emphasis on domestic violence besides focusing on other necessities like food assistance and income opportunities amid the shutdown situation.
Earlier in April, the MJF had also analyzed the situation with domestic and other forms of violence with the help of its partner NGOs. In April, 4805 women and children were victims of domestic violence in 28 districts of the country. Of these, 2,051 women and children became victims for the first time. Ninety-two percent of children were abused by their parents and relatives.
During the press conference, the executive directors of three non-governmental organizations also participated. MJF’s Knowledge Management Director Dr. Rezwan-Ul-Alam, conducted the session.
In May, 2171 children were victims of various forms of violence. Of them, 1621 children or 75% became victims of domestic violence. Among types of violence, included, among others, child marriage, workplace violence, kidnapping, murder, rape and attempted sexual harassment. Among the abused children, 1477 or 68 per cent were girls and 694 or 32 per cent were boys. Among the girls, 1,013 or 62.5 percent were victims of domestic violence. 170 child marriages occurred during May and 233 child marriages were stopped by MJF partner NGOs.
In May, 19 children have been raped and 18 children were victims of attempted rape. Among the total, 36 were girls. There have been 21 cases of abductions. Of these, 19 are girls and the other two are boys. 13 girls and 6 boys were killed. Three girls were sexually harassed while trying to collect relief.
Throughout May, MJF provided counseling, legal aid and health care services to women and children victims of violence. Of them 7,410 were children while 11215 were women. Partner NGOs also prevented 233 cases of child marriage during the same period.
MJF’s May findings is consistent with various global studies such as in USA, UK, Italy, Spain, China, Malaysia, India, Argentina and Tunisia that found that before lockdown, the rate of domestic violence was one in three. However, it increased to two out of three during lockdown situation.
As violence against women and children has increased in Bangladesh, MJF called for prioritizing the issue in national Covid-19 response plan. It also urged disseminating helplines numbers that help stop violence against women. For example, 109 for stopping violence against women and 999 for police assistance. Due to violence, many women left homes, for whom official shelter support are urgently needed. Without this support, these women are likely to be become victims of double violence. MJF also demanded exemplary punishment to those perpetrators. To bring those perpetrators to justice, MJF recommended taking up more cases in virtual courts and special tribunals.
Noting that adolescent girl students are likely to be drooped out from schools, MJF urged the authorities to be more vigilant to prevent child marriages during lockdown.
For more information, please contact:
Shahana Huda Ranjana
Senior Coordinator, Media and Communication