Women experience fears three times as much as males, despite their documented risk of personal violence being lower. It is argued that women’s fear of crime stems from their concern about the repercussions of violence. The reality of violence is a key component in most women’s lives, and it manifests itself in a variety of everyday settings, which often reflects in their spatial exclusions. It could be argued that this fear may be a result of women’s unequal standing, but the perpetuation of gendered disparities also contributes to this fear. Frequent experiences and incidents of economic, physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual violence evoke circumstances and spaces from which women are barred on account of their gender. The lack of agency for women, their heightened emotions of vulnerability, and lack of social support based on gender-based violence have long-term effects.
Gender-based violence has been described by the World Health Organization as a global public health problem of epidemic proportions and a fundamental violation of human rights. Gender-based violence has profound psychological, medical, economic, and social consequences for the rest of a woman’s life that plague survivors and their families. Violence against women and girls in Bangladesh appears to have further increased during the Covid-19 pandemic with NGO hotlines reporting a rise in distressed calls. Recent surveys and reports have shown that a nearly 70 percent increase in reported incidents of violence against women and girls in March and April 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. This crisis comes at a time when Bangladesh is marking the anniversaries of two landmark pieces of legislation on gender-based violence and entering the final phase of its national plan to build “a society without violence against women and children by 2025.”
Therefore, it is important to sensitize women, men, and communities on the issues that can prevent GBV in the long term. Especially in Bangladesh where currently there is a youth bulge. This entire workforce can work on creating awareness, empowering the communities, and being a part of the policy-changing process that will ensure gender equality in the next 50 years of Bangladesh.
Capacity building and sensitization of youth leaders on “Fear of violence” and Gender Based Violence.
Activity 01: Capacity building training for youth leaders on Fear of Violence
The capacity building training for youth leaders have conduct in project periods. Five youth leaders from each district were identified, and a total of 20 young people from Dhaka, Cox’s Bazar, Barishal and Rangpur received a 2-day long residential training physically in Dhaka by a subject-matter expert. They were sensitized on the concept of combatting the fear of violence and the fundamentals of developing local community sensitization campaigns.
Activity 02: Local youth training
The 20 master trainers on the second phase of the campaign initiated community intervention through providing training to the local youths of their respective districts around the concept of Fear of Violence and how to combat the fear. A total of 79 youth were reached through the local community workshops in 4 districts of Bangladesh. During each of the community workshop the local youth participants learn about fundamental human rights, the prevention law of women and children, the dowry prevention law, gender and sex, gender-based violence etc.
Activity 03: Organizing and celebrating IWD- 2022 with the theme #ChallengeFearOfViolence
To celebrate the day, as a part of the advocacy, JAAGO youth leaders from 64 districts started a conversation by posting on social media with the hashtag #ChallengeFearOfViolence. A public event was also launched to raise awareness on the hashtag campaign. A customized Facebook Profile Picture frame was designed which was used by all the participants with the same hashtag in order to prolong the sense of solidarity with the theme.
An imaginary character Dipti was created and introduced through social media as well as later included at the workshops (Act 1 & Act 2). Dipti who is an embodiment of our collective force was created to create resistance against violence against women and children. The aim of this character was to raise the inner consciousness to face and challenge fear of violence, break the bias thus sensitizing the wider audience and community. This was a psycho-social campaign designed and implemented to aware the concept and challenge fear of violence.
Activity 04: National Dialogue on “সহিংসতার ভয় আর নয়”
A national dialogue on “সহিংসতার ভয় আর নয়” named Challenging Fear of Violence was conducted dated on 25 April 2022. The dialogue was attended by youth, policymakers, government representatives, NGO/ INGOs, law enforcement representatives and representatives from JAAGO Foundation and Plan International Bangladesh to discuss the national situation around winning the fear of violence, how laws and policies can become more supportive to the theme, and where the youth stand in this whole process. The panel discussion was conducted by Mohd. Muhibuzzaman, Ms Taslima Yasmin, M.H. Tanshen, Kamrun Nahar, and Maleka Banu. The dialogue further discussed how the local youths can work with the policymakers and government to find a way forward, and how it can avail government support for a broader scale implementation across divisions.
- 20 youths from the 4 districts received the capacity building training
- They learned about the different types of violence faced by women as well as about the fear of this violences and how they can address these issues and raise awareness in their communities.
- Youth participants learned about basic concepts on women and child protection law, dowry law, human rights, social identity/gender, equality, equity, gender based violence, and emergency helplines.
- Through participating in debates on “financial violence”, youths gained a clear concept about gender based violence.
- Through the local youth training, 79 local community youth were sensitized around gender based violence, challenging fear of violence and the rule of law around GBV.
- A national dialogue was conducted which was attended by youths, policymakers, government representatives and key stakeholders.
- Youths were able to put forward their concerns in front of the panelists
- Through media coverage, general people have been made aware of gender based violence.
One participant from Rangpur, Rakibul Hasan expressed his concern that, “In our patriarchal society, especially in the rural areas, the women are facing mental, physical and financial violence which are often overlooked in our society. Due to this campaign, we have been able to create awareness among the girls and women in the society to take necessary actions in case of any type of violence.”
Amrita Roy, a volunteer from Barishal said, “This campaign has made me aware of my rights, laws, and the types of violence that most women in our society face in their day to day lives. I am certain that many youths, girls and women are unaware about their own rights. Thanks to this campaign we were able to inform people about their rights and laws of our country regarding violence”.