SOP was considered necessary to ensure that the Bangladesh Police can follow a survivor -centred human-rights-based approach to combating GBV.
The SOP was launched on Wednesday with support from the United Nations Population Fund, according to a UNFPA statement.
Bangladesh Police and UNFPA, therefore, decided to develop a comprehensive SOP focusing on GBV and women-friendly police services in order to strengthen police personnel’s handling of such cases and make police services overall more women-friendly.
The SOP is a practical tool for the Bangladesh Police to ensure systematic and appropriate guidance to police personnel in combating GBV, reads the statement.
Inspector General of Police, AKM Shahidul Hoque speaking at the launch praised the police for strengthening the knowledge, skills and commitment to collectively protect women and girls.
The police chief said: “Following the launch of the SOP, police will extend the best possible services and work to prevent and respond to women and girls who have become victims of gender based violence.”
The UNFPA statement added that it had been working with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Bangladesh Police since 1996 to assist the police in ensuring that women and girls are able to report cases of violence in an atmosphere of confidentiality and dignity and to guarantee that cases are managed with efficiency and effectiveness.
With UNFPA support, 15 police stations now have dedicated Women Friendly Helpdesks, where trained female officers attend to cases of gender-based violence reported by girls and women. 44 police stations in five intervention districts- Cox’s Bazar, Patuakhali, Sylhet, Jamalpur and Dhaka Metropolitan- already use the SOP for victims.
One such example is Sheema, who was only 15 when she was rescued by a Women’s Help Desk Officer in Patuakhali Sadar after having been tortured by her husband and in-laws. The intervention of the police officers most likely saved her life and has helped her to go back to studies, opening up new opportunities for her in life.
Sheema’s case is not unusual, a recent report by BBS and UNFPA indicated that more than 70% of currently married women experience some forms of violence.
Despite the high prevalence, the number of cases actually reported stands at only 2.6% of those suffering from violence. A culture of silence and impunity prevents survivors of GBV of coming forward and reporting the crimes.
Iori Kato, Officer in Charge of UNFPA, highlighted the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation between health services providers, legal support and the judicial sector. He moreover urged the police to make the SOP an approved and official document countrywide.
He further thanked the police for their dedication in dealing with GBV and concluded saying: “I am convinced that with your commitment and dedication we can jointly address the critical issues which are constraining women and girls from achieving their full potential in Bangladesh.
“Together we can make a significant stride in stopping all gender based violence, including child marriage.”