We must understand that such abuse of our women and girls can never be condoned
One of the most alarming consequences of Covid-19 has been the drastic rise in domestic violence that women have been subjected to in the past year. The “shadow pandemic,” as it has often been referred to, has seen a 30% increase in first-time victims of some form of violence at home due to the effects of the pandemic.
In a webinar conducted last Wednesday, Manusher Jonno Foundation and Brac James P Grant School of Public Health revealed these distressing numbers, elaborating also on how women were not only victims of physical abuse that often turned sexual, but also of mental and financial abuse. The reasons commonly cited to be behind the abuse were men having to stay at home due loss of livelihood and other economic frustrations stemming from Covid-19.
This increasing trend of taking out these frustrations on women has stemmed from a pre-existing power imbalance among the sexes, of which men tend to hold the most power because of patriarchal systems and societies.
The financial consequences of Covid-19 are being felt across the globe, but not only are women’s worries being treated as secondary to men’s, they are also being subjected to increased violence as a result of men’s entitlement over women’s bodies and lives.
And this dire phenomenon has not stayed limited to adult or married women. The closing of schools has put a multitude of school-age girls at risk of child marriage, and the further risk of domestic violence that comes with it. Boys of the same age are not treated as such.
A plan to train women and girls to secure their economic freedom, as well as the combined effort on the part of the government and NGOs, were also discussed in the webinar. We must understand, as a society, that such abuse of our women and girls can never be condoned, and that it is imperative to also tackle our societal and cultural stigma surrounding women and abuse if we are to reduce these numbers.