According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 30 percent of all women who have been in a relationship experience sexual violence at the hands of their intimate partners.
Almost 35 percent of women around the world have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
Even during the pandemic, rapes and sexual assaults are taking place, both inside homes and outside.
Only recently, a ninth grader was raped and murdered in her house in Laxmipur. On June 14, a Covid-19 patient was sexually harassed by a hospital staff in Khulna.
According to a survey conducted by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), this year in April, more than 4,200 women and 456 children experienced domestic violence in 27 districts in Bangladesh.
The survey disclosed that most of the violence was carried out by husbands during the shutdown. MJF further stated that poverty was a key factor behind these incidents.
A large number of physical violence and sexual assault cases are reported every year in the country, but none are dealt with sufficient importance and perpetrators are rarely punished.
Naripokkho, an activist organisation in the city, said that despite the coronavirus outbreak, the number of women and children being molested has not fallen.
A Facebook user recently posted, "While I was trying to cross the footpath, someone from the crowd suddenly grabbed me inappropriately and before I could understand anything, the person vanished."
Instead of raising concern, the post received unwarranted reaction and criticism and as a result, it was taken down.
Another woman posted a dreadful experience she had while traveling on a bus. "The bus was full and passengers and was packed like sardines. I managed to share a seat with a male passenger. After some time, I discovered that his arm was trying to reach my waist. At first I did not pay attention, but then he kept on trying to touch me."
"When the bus reached the last stoppage, I found my belt torn off into two pieces. It was probably cut by something sharp, like a blade or a knife, because I found a deep scratch on my skin," she shared.
Many women have resorted to expressing their frustration and pain on social media platforms. Unfortunately, netizens do not react much and cases of sexual assault keep on rising.
Incidents of violence against woman are rampant around the world and they are happening regardless of a global health crisis and they are happening everywhere – indoors and also out on the streets.
This year on June 19, we will observe the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Conflict-related sexual violence includes gross violations of human rights such as rape, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, sexual slavery and forced prostitution.
Indecent gestures, words and discrimination in attitude are also considered to be inappropriate.
Women in their homes and working places are not safe and no parents can sigh in relief after sending their daughters outside the house.
On her way to school or office, a woman becomes the victim of eve-teasing; in her home, she is subjected to physical, psychological and sexual torture. More than often, she experiences harassment from office colleagues.
After conducting interviews with 17,000 respondents, MJF found out that 848 women were tortured physically, 2008 psychologically, 85 sexually and some 1,308 were financially restricted during the shutdown.
The survey also revealed that most of the cases happened during the time when people were traumatised about the pandemic.
Generally speaking, sexual violence usually occurs due to lack of surveillance and imposition of the law. It seems as if the pandemic has added fuel to the fire.
Increased social awareness and strict implementation of the law can be effective in combating violence against women.
Moreover, we have to ensure that more women participate in the economy and become a part of the country's development process.
Women in the country are already excelling in every sector of the country including politics, business, education, and technology.
In order to establish an egalitarian society, violence against women must be brought down to the minimum.
The author is professor, department of Philosophy, Jagannath University, Dhaka.