Violence against women, especially domestic violence, is a severe issue in Bangladesh
Gender equality is discussed especially in the context of the public sphere – such as office, economy, entertainment - but it was more important in private and family life, said Dr Faustina Pereira, director of Human Rights and Legal Aid Services at Brac.
In cases of sexual harassment there were problems inside the family sphere which needed to be addressed, she added.
Pereira was speaking at a virtual seminar on the global campaign, “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.”
The campaign runs every year from November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, which is Human Rights Day.
“Despite the tremendous progress made by Bangladesh, when it comes to private space…the space within walls, which should be the safest place, is shockingly the most dangerous,” she added.
The program was arranged by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) on Wednesday afternoon.
In her remarks, Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, noted that the rate of violence against women, especially domestic violence, was very high in Bangladesh.
“80% of all women have endured domestic violence sometime in their life. It has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. During the lockdown, many women who had never faced violence before have experienced it.”
She said studies showed that from August to October, the violence decreased once the nationwide lockdown was withdrawn.
“It shows that when the men went out of the house [for work], domestic violence decreased.”
She said women were not safe even in their own homes.
“One of the instances of violence nobody talks about is marital rape. Very few women want to talk about it,” she said.
Here the government had a huge role to play, she added.
Abul Hossain, project director of Multi-Sectoral Program on violence against women at the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs said: “In 2010 the government developed a Domestic Violence Act. Unfortunately, the law became popular but people did not get much help.”