MJF Covid-19 Responses in July 2020
During July 2020, MJF accelerated its online advocacy efforts demanding effective measures by the Government and relevant agencies to prevent domestic violence against women and children during Corona situation. This e-newsletter highlights some of the activities undertaken during July 2020.
Child marriages up in June, MJF study reveals
On July 12, MJF released the findings of ‘Telephone Survey on Violence against Women and Children: COVID-19’ through an online press conference. The rate of child abuses in June increased compared to last April and May. In particular, the number of child marriages has increased at an alarming rate. In June alone, 462 girls were victims of child marriage. 206 child marriages were prevented during the same period. The number of child marriages was 180 in May and the number of child marriage prevented was 233.Revealing this information, MJF Executive Director, Shaheen Anam said that the trend is very alarming and “the situation is more gruesome”. Ms. Anam urged the government to emphasize on preventing child marriage and domestic violence in addition to focusing on other necessities like food assistance and income opportunities amid the shutdown situation.
The report is available here. The findings were widely covered in the print and electronic media. The full list of media reporting is available here. The VOA Bengali Service also carried a story, covering interview of MJF Executive Director.
Marginalized people received little Covid support from government
MJF organized a webinar on 29 July where members of marginalized communities alleged that they received a meagre amount of aid from the Covid-19 crisis allocations. Only 4,100, or 25 percent, families of ethnic minorities in the hilly and plain land areas received the help, speakers said during the webinar titled “Marginalized People during Covid-19: Inclusion or Exclusion?” Speaking as the chief guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said “We are aware of these… and the prime minister has announced that all these are unacceptable and she will not tolerate these and we will take action.” MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said marginalized communities of Bangladesh were not getting sufficient aid. “There are some allegations of mistargeting, we are also getting news of corruption and in some cases political interference.”
Judith Herbertson, head of DFID Bangladesh said: “Collectively we need to be able to provide immediate assistance to those lacking food, healthcare, and facing violence”, adding that the UK government would continue its commitment to the marginalized groups. Lawmaker Aroma Dutta, Economist and Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh Convener Debapriya Bhattacharya, Nagorik Uddyog Chief Executive Zakir Hossain, Executive Director of Research Initiatives Bangladesh Meghna Guhathakurta and Chief of Chakma Circle (Chakma King) Debashis Roy also spoke, among others.
During July, MJF organized few webinars and participated in some others organized by various organizations to highlight the plight of women, children, youth and marginalized communities, affected by Covid-19. On 23 July MJF’s Executive Director was guest of honour in a webinar on livelihood and security rights of female garment workers, while Shaheen Anam also joined another webinar on 15 July health, job and uncertainty of female garment workers during post-Covid situation. MJF’s Executive Director spoke during a webinar on Covid-19 Pandemic in Bangladesh: Youth and Volunteerism on 23 July organized by Aparajeo Bangla.
Meanwhile, MJF’s Gender Advisor Ms. Banasree Mitra Niyogi spoke on women’s unaccounted domestic work during a webinar on 24 July. MJF’s Programme Coordinator Ruma Sultana joined in a webinar on 23 July and spoke on legal and psycho-social support for victims of domestic violence, while MJF’s Programme Manager Zahed Hassan spoke on plight of indigenous people during Covid-19 during a webinar on 18 July.
MJF’s partner Obolombon arranged a programme to produce masks by Saontal population in Gobindganj. MJF’s partners in CHT areas also helped communities to grow vegetables and seed preservations. Meanwhile, farmers engaged with SIDA’s climate change project of MJF recovered by growing vegetables after hit by Amphan cyclone.
MJF’s partner organization supporting Harijan communities submitted a nine-point memorandum to Civil Surgeon of Khulna on 15 July demanding various incentives for their risky works during Covid-19.
MJF’s dynamic Media and Communication Lead, Ms. Shahana Huda Ranjana, continued her advocacy blitz to influence public opinion on various socio-economic aspects of the COVID-19 fallout. She wrote five op-ed pieces on wide-ranging issues such as marriage during Covid—19, honour killing in Bangladesh, reminiscing about Hatirpool, cyber-crime, and domestic workers are not slaves.