Poor women in rural areas need to be empowered and made aware of their rights in order to protect them against violence, speakers said.
Rural women are facing more violence during the Covid-19 pandemic, so the women who have no jobs need to be employed to help them attain financial solvency, they also said.
Building a strict social resistance and providing legal protection are essential to safeguarding rural women from violence, speakers stressed at a virtual press conference Wednesday organised by COAST Trust, a non-government organisation (NGO).
Referring to an April study on the issue in three districts – Bogura, Jamalpur and Cox's Bazar, Salma Sabiha, an official of the NGO and the keynote speaker, said COAST Trust discovered a sad picture of violence against women in those districts.
In March alone, there were 64 incidents of rape and over 300 cases of domestic violence in those districts, she also said.
In April, over 4,200 women were victims of various forms of violence, most of whom were rural women, she added.
Their study also revealed that there was a growing tendency to humiliate women by spreading violence on social media.
COAST Trust urged the government to formulate a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of violence against women, and deal with the issue speedily.
Women have to be made acquainted with national emergency number (999), women and child abuse and child marriage prevention number (109), and the hotline number (10921) of the women and child affairs ministry for their protection and service, it recommended.
Above all, rural women need to be made aware of their rights so that they can raise their voice against discrimination and violence, it said.
Violence against women is not acceptable, and social values need to be changed to establish this attitude, said Reazaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Trust.
"Tomorrow (Thursday) is International Rural Women's Day, and we will observe the day in around 50 districts with various programmes, including awarding rural women," said Shamima Akter, president of the Rural Women Day Observing Committee.
Since 2000, various voluntary and development organisations in Bangladesh have been celebrating this day with their own funds, said COAST Trust Director Mustafa Kamal Akanda who moderated the programme.
EquityBD, an NGO, is acting as the secretariat of the National Committee for the day's celebration, he added.