In his introductory presentation, BIPSS president Maj Gen ANM Muniruzzaman (retd) highlighted the need for fresh policy formulations to counter gender-based violence which had particularly increased during the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.

He said concerted efforts of all concerned were necessary to bring such violence under control and also pointed out that this phenomenon was a global one, where women were the key victims.

Quoting facts and figures from the non-government legal aid organisation Ain O Salish, guest speaker at the discussion, Ayesha Kabir , head of the daily Prothom Alo’s English online news portal, said that from January to September this year in the country, 358 women had been victims of violence and 183 had been killed.

Violence Against Women was more than just physical torture, she pointed out, saying that it included murder, rape, rape followed by murder, physical torture, mental torture, economic violence and more.

Child marriage was also another fallout of the COVID-induced gender –based violence, but such child marriage was not a solution. It did not protect girls from violence, but was a perpetuation of the problem.

Men and women had to be sensitised on gender issues, the law enforcement had become more gender sensitive too and field workers at a rural level could be trained as paralegals to inform and advise women about their rights to legal remedy

Among recommendations to address the issue, she said other than ensuring enforcement of the existing laws, public awareness needed to be raised on the issue. Men and women had to be sensitised on gender issues, the law enforcement had become more gender sensitive too and field workers at a rural level could be trained as paralegals to inform and advise women about their rights to legal remedy.

Participants at the dialogue said that the media needed to play a much stronger role in addressing the issue of domestic violence. They said that even men and boys were victims of violence in various ways and this needed to be exposed too.

Counselling was essential for both the perpetrators and the victims, said a participant. This was particularly pertinent for juvenile delinquents who often became hardened criminals at the correctional centres which lacked professional counseling facilities.

It was observed at the event that gender sensitivity needed to be inculcated at an early age in the families and in the educational institutions. Also, it was imperative that the authorities do not grant such criminals with impunity. The bottom line was that concerted effort from all concerned was a must to stop the growing propensity of gender-based violence.

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