The complaints are being received but further procedures could not be taken due to the lockdown
Married off at the age of 19, first year LLB student Sanjida Ahmed had no idea that she could also be subjected to abuse and violence even after marrying someone from the educated class.
She moved to Canada soon after her marriage, and was physically abused within just one week after arriving there. Soon, Sanjida was being abused physically in public places too.
For six long years, she tried her best to make things right and tolerate the abuse hoping that one morning everything will take a turn for the better.
“I was physically abused every week, round the year, and the very morning after the abuse, my former husband turned more romantic and I kept waiting for a morning from where these abuses will all come to a stop,” said Sanjida.
“They actually shadow our thinking process. They stop us from thinking,” Sanjida said.
Her ordeal continued again and again till her husband assaulted her in front of his friend’s family.
Thinking about her dignity and herself, she left her husband and after two years of leaving her husband, she is now studying Criminal Justice and working with several women rights organizations.
Sanjida shared her life experiences during a discussion at a webinar hosted by Aarna, a campaign against gender based violence, on Saturday night.
Another survivor, Anjuman Ovi, also shared her experiences of domestic violence and explained how it had affected her son and how she finally decided to move.
However, her family desperately wanted her to continue staying with her husband even when she had already decided to leave him for her child.
“Being in fear of facing the harsh reality after disclosing incidents of domestic violence – private internal matters of the family – keeps women from speaking up and keeps the practice alive as perpetrators get much encouraged by their silence,” Dhaka University Associate Professor for Clinical psychology Dr Farah Deeba said.
She also mentioned that psychological tendencies of the victims of normalizing their hostile situation become the most harmful thing for them.
“And by using this sentiment, the perpetrators confine the victim into their cycle of abuse,” she added.
Gender based violence expert Farisa Kabir said the victims should come forward and speak up, and if they come forward they would be in a better situation.
She exemplified with two cases, R v R  UKHL 12 and R v Ahluwalia in India, which changed marital rape law or laws governing sexual offences introduced in UK.
However, both the victims said they found it difficult to seek help from the laws and the expense of the cases was too high and they feel it restrains people’s accessibility to the laws.
Responding to the matter, Farisa said the court is the last resort of justice and one should first try the hotline – 10921 and 109, and to reach the NGOs and government aid offices. But, it would be best to speak to a lawyer first.
Covid-19 impacts on domestic violence
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) Executive Director Sara Hossain, in her opening speech, said those who were at the risk of domestic violence are now in more danger as the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed people into their homes.
Meanwhile, BLAST lawyer Nusrat Meraji said around 50% of the cases that their organization deals with are related to domestic violence, which indicates that women are now coming forward to put an end to the problem.
“But, Covid-19 had changed the situation. As the lockdown continues, women are now forced to keep silent as they know they have to continue with their partners and stay home,” she added.
The complaints are being received but further procedures could not be taken due to the lockdown, she added.
UN Women Communication Analyst Samara Mortada and gender-based violence expert and women's rights advocate Sadaf Saaz Siddiqi also attended the program while the panel discussions were moderated online by Farhana Muna.