Lockdown measures implemented in Bangladesh as of March 2020 have left many Rohingya women in Bangladeshi refugee camps in a vulnerable position. Many are trapped in abusive environments suffering from sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and child marriage, and so the request to stay at home carries the additional risk of being confined with their perpetuator as social tensions rise due to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. Apart from an increased risk of gender-based violence, it also results in psychological damage of family members witnessing the abuse. Furthermore, the traditional role of women as primary caregivers of the elderly, children, and the sick is placing more pressure on them. Now, with the large-scale closure of safe spaces and shelters the situation is likely to get worse.
Most efforts are currently focussed on preventing the spread of Covid-19; however, it is vital to remain focussed on the prevention of a less visible, but ever more pressing issue: violence against women Gender Concerns International has committed itself to supporting the Women’s Organisations working hard to ensure that women have access to healthcare, health information, support, and safety and receive the support they need as the dire state of health facilities unable to deal with the rapidly spreading virus poses an extra challenge. The organisation therefore urges the international community to not turn a blind eye and never let women suffer in silence.