352 women, children tortured and 70 raped in a single month
A total of 109 women and children became victims of rape in the month of March this year, according to a research report of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad.
The report revealed the fact, when many gender experts cautioned that the number of domestic violence and also other forms of violence against women would be increased in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Of the victims, 70 were children and, in addition to that, about 352 women and children fell victims to torture and among them a total of 152 were girls.
The Parishad presented the figure after compilation of various reports on the basis of news items published in 13 national newspapers of the country.
According to the report, 62 children were raped in March alone. Among them, five children were victims of gang rape. One child was killed after rape and 27
others were abducted.
The report also reveals that two women became of acid attack, three faced harassment and six were abducted.
At least 49 people including 12 children were killed in various ways whereas 11 were attempted to be killed.
About twenty women were tortured due to dowry: of them nine were killed.
The report also suggests that about 33 people including seven children faced physical abuse.
During the period a total of 15 women and eight children committed suicide because of various kinds of tortures.
In addition, about 43 women and 12 children have died mysteriously.
Besides, six women and four children became victims of cyber crimes amid the pandemic.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad's report shows that about 107 women and girls were raped in the month of April last year that means this year the number is increasing.
However, the last year's report said that domestic and dowry related violence increased by about 2.0 percent in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic starting from March 8 to July 31 compared to the pre-Covid period from October 14 to March 7 last year, said a report of a project styled 'Bangladesh Peace Observatory (BPO)' under the Centre for Genocide Studies (CGS) of Dhaka University.
The number of incidents of domestic and dowry related violence was 228 during the Covid-19 pandemic while it was 224 during the pre-Covid time.
According to the report, Barishal and Rajshahi divisions witnessed the highest incidents of such violence, the BPO report said.
Apart from this, the BPO also revealed that as many as 202 women had been killed in the last seven months from January to July 2020.
However, according to data gathered by Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), cases of violence against women were higher in March compared to February and January this year.
The report shows that a total of 56 rape cases and 132 cases of other forms of violence against women were filed in March in Dhaka while it was 45 and 120 respectively in February.
Talking to the Daily Observer, Banasree Mitra, Gender Adviser at Manusher Jonno Foundation said over phone that women are facing different forms of violence amid this Covid-19 pandemic but it is more likely that fewer cases are being reported because people are not stepping out of their homes to file complaints due to fear of further harassment and Covid-19 infection."
Advocate Elena Khan, a human rights activist, said many victims of violence are not willing to seek law enforcement agency's help as they have doubt if they would receive justice."
That is why we are not getting the real pictures of such violence against women and children, she said.
Soma Day, an Associate Professor in the Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka, said different forms of violence - physical, psychological or sexual - had increased during the Covid-19.
"We can see physical violence against women and children and some state laws are there to protect the victims but in the case of psychological abuses we hardly know about the consequences that very often many victims face," she said.