A total of 25,607 complaints were received by Brac's 410 Human Rights and Legal Aid Clinics across the country between Jjanuary and October
Gender-based violence has seen a rise in Bangladesh amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, revealed a Brac study adding that more than 25,000 complaints were registered by its Legal Aid Services in the first 10 months of 2020.
BRAC on Tuesday released new data on gender-based violence in conjunction with the UN's “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence,” said a press release issued in this regard.
As per Brac’s data, even with restricted mobility because of the Covid-19 lockdowns for a limited time, a total of 25,607 complaints of gender-based violence were received by its 410 Human Rights and Legal Aid Clinics across Bangladesh in the first 10 months of this year.
Of the complaints, 15,047 were resolved through alternative dispute resolution; legal counsel was provided to 3,239 survivors, and 1,724 complaints led to civil and criminal cases being filed.
In addition, almost $4 million in dower and maintenance was recovered for survivors.
This spike in gender-based violence in the country is also supported by the data collected from Polli Shomaj – Brac’s community-based women's groups – which reported a 24% rise in incidents of violence against women in 2020 compared to 2019.
Greater pressure on teenage girls for child marriage amid pandemic
The number of child marriages reported by Polli Shomaj – active in 54 out of 64 districts in the country and working to stop violence and help women understand their rights – in the first 10 months of 2020 grew by 68%, compared to the same period in 2019.
There was also a 72% rise in the number of child marriages prevented by the women’s groups during the same period.
In the third quarter of 2020, with the deadly coronavirus widespread, the number of child marriages prevented was 219% higher than the same period in 2019.
The number of child marriages prevented rose by 571% from the first quarter of 2020 to the third quarter of 2020.
Number of Child Marriages prevented by Polli Shomaj in 2019
Number of Child Marriages prevented by Polli Shomaj in 2020
The rise in child marriage is particularly concerning because child brides are more likely to experience gender-based violence, said the study.
Globally, girls who marry before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely to experience physical or sexual violence from a partner than girls who get married after 18.
Child brides are also more likely to believe that a man is justified in beating his wife.
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Commenting on the findings, Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh said: “Combating gender-based violence and ensuring gender equality is top priority for Brac, and the Covid-19 pandemic is only making the fight harder.”
“Brac has major initiatives that demonstrate that with community mobilization and awareness, significant progress can be made in tackling this challenge.
“Amid this pandemic, it is more important than ever that more concerted commitments and efforts are made from all tiers of government and society to ensure that gender-based violence is stopped and the rights of women are protected,” he added.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is recognized annually from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day, the release added.