Access to Justice during COVID-19 for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Women’s economic constraints, lack of knowledge, gaps in the law, and gender stereotypes prevalent in society generally make it difficult for them to seek redress from domestic violence. The COVID crisis and movement restrictions exacerbated these constraints as resources and access to services become even more difficult. In response to these global and national concerns, the Rule of Law Programme of GIZ Bangladesh commissioned the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) to undertake research to explore the justice-seeking journeys of women facing domestic violence. Qualitative methods were used to capture the experiences of domestic violence (DV) survivors interacting with their families, communities, NGOs and the formal justice system during the COVID period, and data was collected between November 2020 and May 2021. Twelve in-depth case studies of women experiencing domestic violence were prepared through in-depth interviews, process documentation through case diaries and 104 interviews of people involved in the cases. The research has shown that women survivors of DV have various forms of agency within social, cultural, and economic constraints. At the household level, COVID disrupted respondents’ lives and lead to aggravations of conflicts and tensions with increased demands for money from wives and their families, difficulties paying for children’s costs, and also refusals to bear household expenses by husbands. While access to community leaders and NGO paralegals and community animators was not hampered, at the state level, access to formal institutions and offices was difficult due to strict lockdown restrictions.

Authors: Sultan, Maheen; Akter, Marufa; Mahpara, Pragyna; Pabony, Nuha Annoor; Tasnin, Fariha
Type: Policy Brief
Year: 2021