Gender-based Violence (GBV) on Bangladeshi Women and Girls during COVID-19 in Toronto: Forms, Causes, and Mental Health Impacts

Qazi Shafayetul Islam *

Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS), 2899 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Canada.

Nasima Akter

Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS), 2899 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Canada.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Abstract

Aims: The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has led to a rise in the number of gender-based violence (GBV) cases within families. This increase is mainly due to patriarchal influence, prolonged stay at home, social isolation, and financial abuse. Women and girls, in particular, have been adversely affected by this phenomenon, experiencing significant mental health impacts. A study conducted in Toronto explored the various types and causes of violence against South Asian Bangladeshi women and girls and how it affects their mental health, too.

Methodology: Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services (BCS), an ethnic organization conducted a study on gender-based violence (GBV) from Sep to Dec 2021. Two extensive Zoom group discussions involved 55 females and six males, including social workers (n=9), community leaders/workers (n=17), community youth ambassadors (n=9), and community members (n=26, among them n=11 were victims). Audio recordings were transcribed and translated into English, then thematically coded to identify forms of GBV and provide narratives based on participants' experiences.

Results: South Asian Bangladeshi women and girls have been subjected to various forms of violence by their husbands or male family members, such as physical, psychological/emotional, verbal, and financial violence. Physical violence includes shaking their wives' hands and necks and pushing wives and girls. Psychological, verbal, and financial violence includes scolding, threatening, demoralizing, blaming, belittling, coercing, stealing money, and committing financial fraud. The causes of violence against women during the lockdown are related to the loss of husbands' jobs and idleness, the tendency to establish male power over women out of fear of losing patriarchal control during a crisis, husbands' mental turmoil due to the lockdown and financial crisis, women's protest against extramarital relationships, fear of contracting viruses, taking advantage of women's vulnerability, and greediness towards wives' money. As a result of this violence, many victims have reported experiencing anxiety, mental trauma, frustration, distress, depression, and discrimination. Victims of violence have faced many obstacles in accessing appropriate providers, such as language barriers and threats from their husbands.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected South Asian Bangladeshi women and girls who are experiencing gender-based violence. To address this issue, policymakers, governments, and ethnic organizations must collaborate to create comprehensive plans that aim to eliminate gender-based violence, as well as associated cultural problems and stigma. Community organizations can provide resources and support for victims, working with families and husbands to create a safer environment for those affected.

Keywords: Girls and women, gender-based violence, financial violence, physical violence, psychological and verbal violence


How to Cite

Islam, Qazi Shafayetul, and Nasima Akter. 2024. “Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on Bangladeshi Women and Girls During COVID-19 in Toronto: Forms, Causes, and Mental Health Impacts”. Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research 36 (7):307-19. https://doi.org/10.9734/jammr/2024/v36i75505.

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