The number of child marriages in the first 10 months of 2020 grew by 68%
Gender-based violence (GBV) has increased in the country amid the coronavirus epidemic, according to new data released by Brac on Tuesday.
Brac Legal Aid Services in Bangladesh received a total of 25,607 complaints of GBV through its 410 Human Rights and Legal Aid Clinics across Bangladesh in the first ten months of 2020, according to a press release.
"Of these complaints, 15,047 were resolved through alternative dispute resolution; legal counsel was provided to 3,239 survivors, and 1,724 complaints led to filing of civil and criminal cases. In addition, almost $4 million in dowry money was recovered for survivors," it read.
This spike is supported by data from Polli Shomaj, Brac's community-based women's groups, which reported a 24% rise in incidents of GBV.
Polli Shomaj is active in 54 out of 64 districts in Bangladesh. It works to stop violence and help women understand their rights. It reported a 24% rise in incidents of violence against women in 2020 compared to 2019.
The number of child marriages reported by Polli Shomaj in the first 10 months of 2020 grew by 68% compared to the same period in 2019. There was also a 72% rise in the number of child marriages prevented by the women's groups during the same period, read the statement.
In the third quarter of 2020, with Covid-19 widespread, the number of child marriages prevented was 219% higher than that in the same period in 2019. The number of child marriages prevented rose by 571% from the first quarter of 2020 to the third quarter.
Globally, girls who marry before 15 are almost 50% more likely to experience physical or sexual violence from a partner than girls who marry after 18. Child brides are also more likely to believe that a man is justified in beating his wife.
"Combating GBV and ensuring gender equality is a top priority for Brac, and the Covid-19 pandemic is only making the fight harder," said Asif Saleh, executive director, Brac Bangladesh.
"Brac has major initiatives, highlighted above, that demonstrate that with community mobilisation and awareness, significant progress can be made in tackling this challenge.
"During Covid-19, it is more important that a more concerted commitment and effort are made from all tiers of the government and society to ensure GBV is stopped and rights of women are protected," he added, according to the statement.