Aroma Dutta
Aroma DuttaPhoto: Collected

Parliamentarian and activist Aroma Dutta said a united plan is needed to empower women and reduce repression and violence against them.

She made the observation at an online thematic dialogue on “Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: the normal is new, the violence not” in the capital on Monday. DEVCOM managing director Hassan Imam moderated the programme.

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Twenty per cent women for the first time alleged they have suffered violence in May. But the rate of violence fell in June as many joined work. Child marriage has increased as schools remain shut.
Banasree Mitra Neogi, gender advisor, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF)

The dialogue was organised in the wake of rising violence against women. According to the studies of various non-government organistions, violence against women has increased during the coronavirus pandemic which is raging across the world.

Aroma Dutta said the government, NGO, INGO and donors are all working separately and as a result the target to empower women and ensure equality cannot be achieved.

Referring to Latin America, she said the government, NGO and donors jointly make plans and work accordingly there.

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“But in our country there are duplications and we cannot remove this. A lot of work yields no results, just a wastage of resources,” the parliamentarian said.

Underscoring the necessity of social transformation, Aroma Duttra said, “We do not talk with children and we do not give them time and this is creating alienation.”

The activist said gender budget is being allocated in every ministry but there is no monitoring system as to how the money is being spent.

She said there are good laws but those have to be made effective.

While presenting the keynote paper, equality and rights activist Sheepa Hafiza said misunderstanding and conflict begins from a trivial matter in the family.

She suggested there should be psycho-social counselling in families where domestic violence has taken place.

Sheepa Hafiza also underscored the need for improving relations between the government and NGOs. Besides, management capacity has to be improved, he added.

Project director of Multi-Sectoral Programme on Violence Against Women at women and children affairs ministry, Abul Hossain, said four committees have been formed at various levels to work for women and children.

“But those are not effective. The committees do not hold meetings properly. We have to make the committees effective. We can use local government institutions,” the government official added.

Professor at the department of Women and Gender Studies of Dhaka University, Tania Haque, said gender-based violence is an old problem. But the COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment for men to increase violence against women.

She said the government has launched mobile courts but many women do not know where to go for justice.

In this regard the media can play a strong role, the DU professor noted.

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Citing a study, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) gender advisor Banasree Mitra Neogi said twenty per cent women for the first time alleged they have suffered violence in May. But the rate of violence fell in June as many joined work, she added.

Banasree Mitra Neogi also said child marriage has increased as schools remain shut.

Programme analyst at Women's Economic Empowerment Programme, UN Women, Tapati Saha, said she interviewed RMG workers. “It is a luxury to take leave. How will I feed my children if I take leave,” Tapati quoted a coronavirus infected RMG worker as saying.

Director, Gender Justice and Diversity at BRAC, Nobonita Chowdhury, said, “The number of calls for violence against women has increased. But there is no national statistics on this.”

Senior policy adviser, SRHR and Gender at Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar, said, “We are unable to stop violence against women although we have budget, laws and policy. We need political will.”