Some 98% of women who are mainly domestic workers, cleaners, garment workers, and temporary workers in the construction sector have lost their jobs because of the direct impact of COVID-19.
Only 8.50% of working women received their wages/salary in March. In March alone, there were 64 incidents of rape and over 300 cases of domestic violence were reported in Bogra, Jamalpur, and Cox’s Bazar districts. In April, 4,249 women were victims of various forms of violence, the lion’s share of whom were rural women, said Salma Sabiha, coordinator of rights based organisation COAST Trust, while presenting her keynote paper at a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
The virtual press conference was organized by the National Committee for the Observation of the International Rural Women’s Day 2020. The International Rural Women’s Day 2020 is going to be observed tomorrow (Thursday).
In her keynote address, Salma Sabiha said, we need social initiative along with legal actions. All women should call the hotline number (10921) of the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs to seek protection and services from violence.
There should be awareness and campaign among women so they can easily get services from the National Emergency Number 999 and Prevention of Violence Against Women and Child Marriage Number 109, she said and adding that the government should plan a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy on any kind of violence against women.
According to the organizers, various voluntary and development organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh have been celebrating Rural Women’s Day with their own funds since 2000. It is to be noted that EquityBD, a rights body, is acting as the secretariat of the National Committee for the Celebration of International Rural Women’s Day.
Chaired by Shamima Akhtar, Chairperson of the National Committee for the Observation of the International Rural Women’s Day, the press conference was moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akand, Coordinator of the Secretariat of the National Committee.
Among others, National Committee Member Ferdous Ara Rumi, Masuda Faruk Ratna of Gram Bikash Sangstha, Pratibha Banerjee from BNNRC, Manjushree Saha from Rangpur, Swapan Kumar Guha of Rupantar, Akbar Hossain of Rangpur Pratibondhi Sangstha, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST Trust, Sabrina Akhtar of Wise and AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC also spoke at the press conference.
Ferdous Ara Rumi said, the patriarchal mentality of men is mainly responsible for the inferior position of women in society. It is not possible to bring equality to women without eliminating discrimination and violence against women, she said.
The most horrific and heinous form of violence against women is rape. According to the Ain o Shalish Kendro, there were 975 rapes in August alone. Moreover, an average of 111 women are raped every month. Most of them are rural women and children, she added.
Shamima Akhter said we should take joint efforts to address the barriers of rural women. We will stand by women in the violence against women during the COVID-19 period, she said.
Manjushree Saha said, the contribution of rural women in development is immense. Especially in agriculture. Building resistance to violence against rural women is not the only issue. Everyone, including the public representatives and the local government, have to work together.
Masuda Farooq Ratna said, the overall development of women is not possible leaving rural women behind. Even among rural women, physically challenged and mentally handicapped women and children are more vulnerable to violence. We need to think about them especially. She also said that, rural women should be developed and brought into the mainstream to celebrate International Women’s Day together.
Source: United News of Bangladesh