MJF Covid-19 Responses in June 2020
During June 2020, MJF accelerated its online advocacy efforts for 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 June 2020.
More than 13000 women and children became victims of domestic violence in May
On June 10, MJF released the findings of ‘Telephone Survey on Violence against Women and Children: COVID-19’ through an online press conference. During the lockdown in May, 13,494 women and children became victims of violence in 53 districts of the country. Of these, 4,180 women and children were first time victims. The rate of violence against women and children has increased by 31% in May from the previous month. 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 emphasize on 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 release of MJF’s findings on violence against women and children during lock-down period in May was widely covered in all forms of media. The findings dominated the public discourse for a week, prompting TV channels to organize talk shows where MJF ED, Shaheen Anam, highlighted key findings and suggested effective measures to mitigate the violence. MJF’s previous report on the same issue also became a reference point for many op-ed writers, evident from an op-ed published in daily Prothom Alo.
On 23 June 2020, MJF in cooperation with Bengali daily, Bonik Barta, organized an online discussion on Challenges of Women’s work and gender budgeting during Coronavirus period. MJF Gender Advisor, Banasree Mitra Niyogi, presented a paper on the mentioned topic. ED Shaheen Anam emphasized that unpaid work of women should not remain invisible just because it takes place at home. Others who also spoke were noted Economist Dr. Selim Jahan, Executive Directors from CPD and BELA.
Planning Minister M A Mannan highlighted that the present government has always been taking affirmative action in support of women. He solicited cooperation from all stakeholders so that the Government can also implement various recommendations in giving due recognition to women’s unpaid work in future. The online discussion can be viewed here.
MJF also organized a virtual discussion on 23 June 2020 where women rights leaders and activists urged swift actions by authorities to prevent domestic violence against women and girl children.
Citing MJF’s findings, Ekattar TV on 28 June 2020, in a talk show, concluded that among a sample of 100, more women became victims of domestic violence than people infected by Coronavirus during May. Meher Afroz Chumki, MP, Chair, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Women and Children Affairs Ministry, along with MJF ED Shaheen Anam, participated in the discussion.
The talk show can be viewed here.
Earlier, participating in an online seminar organized by Bangladesh Indigenous Women’s Network on 22 June 2020, MJF’s ED said: “We are deeply worried about the plight of the beauticians from indigenous communities. They made immense contributions to the beauty industry in our country. The indigenous women should be able to find other professions and opportunities. The government should come forward to make different kinds of opportunities accessible to them.”
In a statement on 22 June 2020, MJF urged the Ministry of Religious Affairs to promote dissemination of MJF’s key messages against domestic violence in all religious institutions of the country.
MJF’s Deputy Programme Manager, Resource Mobilization and Campaign Kazi Mitul Mahmud
spoke against gender-based violence during Covid period in an online discussion on UNDP Bangladesh’s Facebook page.
MJF’s crowd-funding initiatives
MJF’s crowd-funding initiative to support sex workers, transgender citizens, and persons with disabilities continued throughout June, drawing sympathetic support by many. Launched through a partnership with a crowd-funding portal, MJF aims to assist 1000 vulnerable people by transferring BDT 1,500 to each of them.
A youth-led initiative, WeMen View which aims to counter sexual harassment, sexism and strict gender roles, by concentrating on men/boys, supported the cause by helping MJF raise funds for the campaign. Other partnership discussions and potential collaborations with overseas volunteer organizations were also explored during this time.
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 four op-ed pieces on wide-ranging issues such as suicide issue; why the State should stand beside women and children to ensure vaccination programme during COVID pandemic; the valiant role played by indomitable youth of Bangladesh to fight coronavirus, and how loss of income and jobs are forcing many middle class families to return to their ancestor villages as refugees.