Violence against women increased during Eid holidays

Prothom Alo illustration

The number of calls to the national emergency number ‘999’ reporting violence against women and children increased during the five-day vacation for Eid-ul-Azha this year.

The number of phone calls to 999 over domestic violence was 26 per cent higher as compared to the last five days before the Eid vacation.

The police assume that thousands of people went to villages from cities to celebrate Eid. It was these people from the cities who made the calls upon seeing incidents of violence against women. The number of calls might increase due to this, police said.

Meanwhile, the sociologists say the rise of violence against women could be a result of having no work outside during the holidays.

The vacation for Eid-ul-Azha was from 27 June to 1 July this year. According to the figures of national emergency service, they received a total of 493 phone calls reporting violence against women and children, that is 99 calls per day on average. The number of such calls was 392 in the five days ahead of the beginning of Eid holidays, that is more than 78 calls per day on average.

Those 493 phone calls during the Eid holidays reported several types of offensive incidents, including 176 cases of domestic violence (tortured by husband, 27 cases of murder, 19 incidents of sexual harassment, 10 cases of rape, nine incidents of attempt to rape, eight cases of dowry related torture, three cases of being tortured by parents and 241 cases of being tortured by other members of the family or neighbours.

The members of Ashulia police station rescued a woman from near the Nabinagar check post after receiving a call at 2.15am on 28 June and took her home.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, that woman, 28, said that she married a widower six years ago. That man had two sons, who were almost of her age. There was a feud in the family even before she married that man.

On the day of the incident, her husband and stepsons beat her up and kicked her out of the house. Later, she made a call to the national emergency number 999. Following that, police took her back home.

She said her husband and stepson ousted her from the house early the next morning. She then went to his husband’s village in Faridpur. There she was assured that the issue will be settled through arbitration. Since then, she has been living in one of her relatives’ house in Rajbari.

When asked, she said she didn’t inform the police after she was ousted from the house for the second time.

Problem lies in attitude

Asked about the reasons behind the rise in the cases of violence against women and children, Anwar Sattar, spokesperson (media and public relation) of the national emergency service, said, “There can be several reasons behind this. Thousands of people from the cities were residing in villages on Eid vacation. They are aware of the emergency service. Probably they felt that it was their duty to call for help seeing incidents of torture in villages.”

Fawzia Moslem, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, thinks negative attitudes towards women and children also play a big role behind violence against them. She told Prothom Alo, “There are many men who harass women here and there. There are also men, who torture their wife on holidays out of abusive mentality.”

She further said, “Although the festivals and holidays are happy occasions for men, they are a burden for women in the country. We can get rid of this by developing positive attitudes towards women and children.”

Speaking regarding this to Prothom Alo, Amanullah Ferdaus, professor of the social science department, said, “The incidents of domestic violence against women also rose during the time of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The reasons behind those incidents at the time are also the main causes behind the rise of domestic violence in the country during the last Eid holidays.

Amanullah Ferdaus said, “Usually husband and wife or other members lock into an altercation during the holidays as there is nothing to do outside, which turns violent at some point. Even couples argue over minor issues such as spending time on mobile or social media during holidays. Again there are incidents where family feud emerges from efforts to impose family decisions on women without taking their consent.”