Women became more vulnerable in pandemic: study

The experiences of vulnerabilities in the Covid-19 pandemic are significantly different for men and women; women have become increasingly vulnerable to physical and mental abuse caused by domestic and intimate partner violence, a recent study has found.

In addition, women's health concerns have also been found to be secondary in the management of the coronavirus and their access to information and services on sexual and reproductive health was disrupted greatly due to the pandemic, it said. 

Manusher Jonno Foundation and Brac James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH) jointly organised a webinar yesterday to share the key findings of the research "Life in the Times of Coronavirus:  Gendered Perspective",

According to the study jointly conducted by JPGSPH and MJF and supported by Share Net International, although gender relationships and sexual and reproductive health services suffered the most throughout the pandemic, very little attention has been paid to these.

Many respondents were found to cut consumption of food from three meals a day to two. Although men at least went out and had some food options, women only consumed what was at the home, the study found.

The study was conducted in Rangamati, Bandarban, Netrokona, Kurigram, Patuakhali, Barguna, Nilphamari, Dhaka Metropolitan and Savar from July 2020 to March 2021. 

Data from MJF's VAW survey and JPGSPH's masculinity, stigma and corona have also been used there.

BRAC's Shahana Siddiqui, Farhana Alam, Subhash Chandra Biswas and Samira Ahmed Raha were involved in the research.

The study also mentioned that staying at home, maintaining social distance and personal hygiene were especially impossible for men, as they had to go out for the livelihood, ignoring their safety. Buying soap and detergent powder or sanitiser was expensive for low-income people.

In terms of economic effect, it has been found that women especially had to spend their small savings on family expenditures.

Financial insecurities, increased mental pressures and anxieties also increased domestic violence and clashes. Parents were forced to marry off their adolescent girls to reduce the burden of poverty.

MJF executive director Shaheen Anam joined the webinar. She said women become vulnerable during any disaster.

During the Codi-19 lockdown, women faced different forms of challenges, such as the added burden of unpaid care work, domestic violence, child marriage, and so on, she added.

Member of Parliament Aroma Dutta also spoke at the webinar, moderated by Brac's Syed Hassan Imtiaz.


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