The government of Bangladesh has taken many initiatives in the last few years to combat the increasing number of gender-based violence cases.
The policy level project titled “Advancement of Women’s Rights” is being implemented in four disaster-prone districts of the country by the Department of Women Affairs under the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs as one of the ways of the government responding to violence against women.
The project is being implemented in eight upazilas of Bogura, eight upazilas of Patuakhali, seven upazilas of Jamalpur, seven upazilas of Cox's Bazar district; especially the cyclone, flood, drought and earthquake-prone areas of these districts.
With United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) funding, the project worth Tk 677.22 lakh began its operation in November 2017 and is scheduled to end in December this year.
The project aims at preventing gender-based violence and oppression against women and girls through the establishment of women's equal rights and women’s empowerment.
The activities of the project include the implementation of existing policies to protect and promote women's rights at the national level, prevent child marriage and all forms of discrimination against women and prevent violence against women by increasing communication.
Read more: Stop violence against women
Quamrun Nahar, Deputy Director (Admin) and director of this project told Bangladesh Post, “We monitor if the meetings and activities of Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committees (NNPC) are being conducted appropriately. Earlier, the meetings of Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committee wouldn’t always take place regularly in different districts and upazilas. We receive recommendations in the form of resolutions from these meetings and work to implement those through the ministry.”
The project also works to improve the vulnerable conditions of women during disasters.
She went on to describe that earlier, in rural areas, women were given punishment in arbitrations even if they were not at fault.
“A lot of changes have taken place in terms of perspective and thoughts. Moreover, we get informed immediately if any such type of incidents take place in the areas where this project is being implemented,” she added.
Mentioning the creation of awareness as one of the main objectives of this project she said that many girls become victims of abuse at shelter homes during disasters.
“We wanted to create a zone for the safety of women and girls. The magistrates nowadays ensure this at shelter homes during disasters whether they are safe there or facing any problems,” she said.
She further informed that there is no plan to extend the deadline of the project.
Al Amin Bhuiyan, Additional Project Director of this project said that a guideline has been formed under this project to make the NNPC meetings effective, which is one of the many components of this project.
He told Bangladesh Post that Gender Based Violence (GBV) sub-clusters have been formed in six districts along with the deputy commissioners of the districts.
The sub-cluster quarterly meetings mainly highlight the gender based violence that takes place during disasters. The members of the sub-clusters include employees of government and non-governmental organizations.
“The cluster meetings in Dhaka usually take place once in two months and sometimes every month if required,” he said.
He further mentioned that training has been provided under this project in the four districts on Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC).
“Referral guidelines are also provided to the victims of gender based violence,” he added.