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Young Bangla network standing against ‘Sexual Harassment and Women’s Safety at Public Places’

Every day almost all the mainstream newspaper in Bangladesh shares news on gender-based harassment and violence in public places. Such news has become a regular happening like all the daily updates. It is a widely accepted fact in many parts of the world that women are subjected to gender-based sexual harassment and violence in public places on a regular basis. Young Bangla works with the promising youth of Bangladesh who has the potentials to eradicate all the malice and change the society. As a mediator between progressive youth and the law and policy maker of Bangladesh Young Bangla and its secretariat Centre for Research and Information (CRI) organizes initiatives for the youth segment of the nation.

Recently Young Bangla arranged a residential workshop on ‘Gender-based violence and women’s safety at public places’ at Savar in the first week of April. 32 of young Bangla network organizations attended the workshop. This workshop provided a basic understanding of gender, gender-based violence, and violence against women. This workshop developed campaign strategies and action plans for women’s safety in public places to the participant. The workshop shared presentation based discussions, interactive sessions, small group activities, and panel discussions. Through the extensive group work, participants identified a set of actions to prevent violence against women in public place. The workshop identified target groups of the campaign and the authorities/ agencies, groups and individuals who can be stakeholders and help out to run the campaign. The workshop geared up the youth network as this held just prior to the Bengali New Year celebration ‘Pohela Boishakh’. Youth took initiatives to watch, check and prevent incidents of sexual harassment in the festival and other events celebrating the New Year. Since then Young Bangla Community Leaders are working in full pace to prevent gender-based violence in their localities and conducting awareness activities in all over Bangladesh. Young Bangla’s Joy Bangla Youth Award winning organizations and other members are arranging initiatives such as awareness seminars and meetings with educational institutions, transport sector, villagers and religious leaders. They are sharing awareness slogans through placards, stickers, and banners and organizing the protest rallies. In addition to these, they also are staging street plays and developing online content on ‘Gender based Violence’.

Women are victims of various types of violence in public transport; apprehending the fact ‘All for One Foundation’, a joy Bangla youth award-winning organization of 2018 arranged ‘View exchange meeting’ with the transport sector in Narayanganj depot. They have distributed awareness stickers in vehicles, had fruitful discussions with the transport owner and workers. From this view exchange meeting, the youth member of ‘All for One Foundation’ gained a deeper understanding of strategic needs to tackle harassment in public transport.

Iccheypuron Samajik Sangathan’ an award-winning organization of 2017 arranged ‘Awareness seminar’ in a Madrasa ‘Al-Quran Foundation’ in Sylhet. They have shared positive messages among Madrasa students on how to tackle harassment and to ensure women safety.

Tetulia Pathshala’, ‘Shopnotori Foundation’ and ‘Parent’s Aging Foundation’ also organized awareness-raising events at different educational institutions in their locality. They have arranged seminars in schools in order to create resilient youth who can reduce violence against women and girls in public places. ‘I-Positive’ provided complain box ‘না বলা কথা গুলো বলবো আজ মন খুলে’ (Let’s talk about the unspoken words) to a school in their locality. Through this box any victim student can share awful incidents happened to them that they could not share before. ‘Aparajita Youth Welfare Association’ arranged campaign in Khulna University campus with the theme ‘তোলো আওয়াজ, ভাঙো নিরবতা’ (Raise your voice, Break the Silence). This campaign mobilized students of the university and aware them about the responsibility of everyone to tackle gender based violence. ‘Aporajito Alor Michil’ engaged student of Rangpur Carmichael College with a slogan ‘নারীর সহিংসতার জন্য পোশাক কখনই দায়ী নয় বরং সমাজের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি দায়ী!’ (Dress up is not responsible for the violence against women, but society’s views are responsible!).

Lalmonirhat Takewondo Association’ organized human chain and rallies in three educational institutions of Lalmonirhat. ‘NIYSHAN’arranged protest rally with placards and banners at various important places in Naogaon. ‘Life of Nature’ also arranged rallies and stuck posters in different areas of Naogaon. ‘Shikhar Alo Pathshala’ also carried out protest rallies in in Manikgonj. They have scheduled their event targeting the different segments of the people at their locality. They also arranged meetings with the villagers.
Pakhi Foundation’ ran their campaign at the traditional Dhupkhola field of old Dhaka where women are a regular target to the violence every year during the Bengali New Year celebration. In order to deal with this situation, Pakhi Foundation deployed volunteers at the festival venue to take immediate actions against sexual harassment.
Choupash Nattanchol’ received Joy Bangla Youth Award in 2017 in cultural category. They staged two plays on women empowerment and violence against women for two days in Naogaon. Prior to the play, they paid tribute to a victim of violence, Nusrat Jahan by performing silence for 1 minute along with the prominent persons of Naogaon district.

Apart from conducting campaign at the field level a lot of Young Bangla member organizations are producing and sharing audiovisual contents online. Young Bangla the youth led platform of CRI identified the ‘Gender-Based Violence’ as one of the major concerns to work with and drew a series of a plan of actions. Young Bangla carrying out an online survey (ঘরের বাইরে নারীর প্রতি যৌন সহিংসতার জরীপ) to measure the contours of the context and have a deeper understanding which is required to address gender-based violence through youth actions. The task upheld by the youth is a continuous process and can be achieved by the combined effort of all of us.