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GVBiE Platform Coordination Meeting held in Noakhali

For most women and girls in Bangladesh, life both within and outside the home is an everyday challenge. Despite having several laws to provide them protection from violence women is still a distant reality here. The speakers expressed their willingness to work unitedly in creating a safe space for women to live, work and access the necessities without any fear, in the quarterly coordination meeting of Preventing Gender-Based Violence against Women in Emergency- GbViE Network on March 26th, 2022 at Noakhali Press Club Hall room.

Union Parishad Member Rowshon Akhter Lucky, Noakhali Judge Court APP Golam Akbar, Bondhon Executive Director Aminuzzaman Milon joined the meeting with other participants. Nurul Alam Masud, Chief Executive of PRAAN moderated the event.

The meeting started with a briefing on events organized by the network members on the eve of International Womenโ€™s Day 2022. Representatives from several organizations presented their activities arranged focusing on preventing violence against women through different campaigns like storytelling, seminars, conferences, demonstrations, etc.

Anowar Hossain from Dwip Unnayan Songstha mentioned the scenario of the majority of the poverty-stricken households in Subarnochar. Any disaster pushes these vulnerable groups to more threats. This is quite common in that a family sends their children to rich households for work, to support managing their day-to-day needs like food and other basics. It seems that these children are being the victim of violence there.

To prevent all types of violence against women, we need to take the very first steps from and within the family, Muhammad Liakot Ali Khan from BLAST said. If a male child of a family can be well educated with a culture of respect towards all human beings, if all the families do so, the issues of discrimination, social degradation, exclusion, and lack of empathy, could be solved in near future. For the incidents of violence, that have already occurred, strict implementation of the law is necessary. From sexual harassment to violence, there are laws, but the unawareness and lack of implementation of these laws, the women are put into increased vulnerability. As BLAST has a tremendous history of success in referral services, he promised to collaborate and support the other network members in establishing a more effective and accessible referral service unitedly. Mr. Aminuzzman too emphasized family and educational institute-based awareness-raising activities to learn and initiate prevention of violence from the very root level.

Monowara Begum Minu from NRDS expressed her grave concern that we are going through a dark social degradation. Efforts of transforming patriarchal social norms should be run side by side with strengthening the law and policies addressing violence against women. In the context of here opinion, Nurul Alam Masud, CEO of PRAAN remarked that because of the university opening after a long time, along with other educational institutions, the commute of female students has been increased. He mentioned the traffic circle, beside Noakhali Super Market as a hot place for sexual harassment. Collective and immediate action is needed to prevent such public space harassment, he said. Ensuring proper security, safety protocols for women in transport, sufficient street lights, and female-friendly public toilets all are matters that are essentially connected to creating a safe place for women.

Most of the violence here is somehow related to the wicked politics, Golam Akbar APP Noakhali Judge Court Said. Campaign-based activism does not have much to do with this. โ€˜We need a chain network to prevent violence. For public transport and public place harassment, we can build activities with different associations of the transport owners and drivers, he said. We have Domestic Violence and other family laws to provide security to women and girls. But there is a huge lack of awareness. This is high time this forum works towards creating awareness about relevant laws and policies among all of us.

On the overall picture of the environment for women in Noakhali, UP member Rowshon Akhter Lucky closed the meeting by mentioning that, there is no other way left for us rather to sincerely sticking to some particular cases of violence and work until the victim gets justice. This is how we can create examples for any other perpetrator and this network is a strength for all of us in doing so.

More than 25 representatives from different organizations joined the meeting. The participants proposed some ideas and measures from which Several decisions were taken to initiate campaigns in collaboration with the municipalities against public place harassment, discussion with the municipality in building toilets for women, collaborating with Red Crescent Society teams in educational institutions, and arranging workshops, creating a youth brigade and capacitate them in campaigning to prevent VAW and accelerating broader referral services for the victims.

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