• Monday, Jan 18, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:10 am

Speakers: Spike in gender-based violence amid Covid-19 pandemic

  • Published at 10:53 pm November 26th, 2020
Violence against women
Representational photo: Bigstock

Quick arrest, speedy trial of those responsible for violence against women have to be ensured, says experts

Not men, but rather existing social norms and society itself need to be fixed and changed, according to Judith Herbertson, director of development at the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

She was speaking during a webinar arranged by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) on Thursday.

The virtual seminar, moderated by MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam, marked the begging of “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” on UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Herbertson said that blaming and shaming of women needed to be stopped and punishment of criminals had to be ensured.

“Domestic and sexual violence and forced marriage cause physical and mental damage to women and these destroy lives,” she said, adding, “Gender discriminations causes gender-based violence.” 

Stating that violence against women had increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, she urged the authorities concerned to provide counselling, treatment and justice to the victims.

Herbertson told young girls to follow three things: “Go to school, stay at school, and never marry during school life.”

She observed that the laws of the country should be improved and thorough investigations necessary for bringing justice to victims of gender-based violence must be undertaken.

Agreeing with her, Nasima Begum, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said: “Not only women, but men also should come forward to put a stop to gender-based violence. We should be women-friendly.”

“Charge sheets of cases regarding gender-based violence should be submitted quickly,” he added. 

While sharing her own life story, she said that her father had played a pivotal role in saving her from child marriage.

Sahely Ferdous, assistant inspector general of PHQ (crime prevention cell), said: “We recently provided assistance to around 4,000 women facing violence, stopped 3,500 child marriages, and saved 14 women from human trafficking.”

“If we stay aware and protest violence against women then such incidents will not occur,” said Sahely Ferdous.

“Not only girls but boys are also being harassed and are victims of violence, especially those who live on the streets,” the police official added.

According to data provided by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) at the webinar, at least 583 women were raped from January to October, with 198 of them being subjected to gang-rape. Besides, 25 were murdered, and 22 committed suicide after rape.

Moreover, during the same period, as many as 463 adolescent girls were raped, 79 were gang-raped, 25 were murdered after rape, 141 were victims of rape attempts, and seven committed suicide after rape.

During these months, at least 935 child marriages took place, revealed ASK, in addition to a total of 37,912 women who became victims of gender-based violence across the country.

Recommendations made

MJF, during the webinar, made some recommendations on stopping violence against women in Bangladesh.

It recommended that ministries and law enforcement agencies prioritize the protection of women and children amid the Covid-19 pandemic and include this issue in the national response plan.

Besides, it urged the authorities concerned to ensure quick arrest and speedy trial of the perpetrators of crimes against women. MJF also said that the survivors of such violence had to be facilitated with all kinds of support.

Furthermore, it urged all to make the “virtual court ordinance” effective as soon as possible to ensure uninterrupted service from the country’s Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunals during the Covid-19 outbreak and beyond.

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