4,249 women faced domestic violence in April, 1,672 for the first time: MJF
Some 4,249 women faced different forms of domestic violence in April this year during the nationwide shutdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey conducted by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF).
Of the victims, 848 women faced physical violence, 2,000 experienced mental torture, and 1,308 women faced economic violence -- meaning their food and other financial support were stopped, it said.
Besides, 85 women encountered sexual violence, MJF said in a virtual press conference on "Domestic Violence during lockdown in Bangladesh" today.
During this time, 33 incidents of child marriage took place while another 141 child marriages were averted due to prompt action by MJF's affiliated bodies.
Other incidents including rape and sexual harassment numbered 42 in April, according to the survey.
Moreover, at least 424 children became subject to torture in their families during the shutdown, it added.
The field-level data for the survey was collected by MJF's 24 affiliated organisations in 27 districts.
A total of 17,203 women were interviewed over the phone and based on specific questionnaire, said the organisers.
Addressing the press conference, MJF Executive Director Shaheen Anam said they did not analyse the data yet and cannot provide any insight into whether domestic violence has increased or decreased during the lockdown situation.
However, a staggering 1,672 women admitted they faced violent incidents for the first time in their lives, she said.
Referring to a global survey conducted by UNFPA, she said domestic violence has increased globally by 20 percent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shaheen Anam said, considering the current situation, they had to conduct the survey within limitations in only the districts where MJF is active.
She said the organisation believes the scenario of domestic violence which came in light during the survey was also the same in other parts of the country.
"It is gruesome picture," she said, adding MJF will also conduct similar surveys in coming months.
MJF urged the government to put emphasis on domestic violence besides focusing on other necessities like food assistance and income opportunities amid the shutdown situation.
It called upon authorities concerned including the home ministry, law ministry, women and children affairs ministry and the inspector general of police to give directives to their field-level officials for enhancing activities with a priority to curbing domestic violence.
Besides, it urged the national helpline services like "109" and "999" to enhance their support amid the shutdown.
MjF also asked for effective steps from the shelter centres so that women in distress can seek refuge there anytime.
MJF stressed the necessity for brining culprits to justice and urged the launching of virtual court hearings to ensure their punishment and justice in the present situation.
It urged the media to continue publishing reports on violence against woman.
Alongside MJF officials, members of affiliated organisations in Mymensingh, Kushtia and Bandarban spoke during the virtual press conference.