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Dhaka Tribune

Study: One in four women face gender-based violence in rural areas

IRC working with government, NGOs, and local community to end gender-based violence

Update : 26 Jul 2022, 09:24 PM

One in four women and girls face gender-based violence (GBV) in rural areas of Bangladesh, according to screening data obtained by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) from its female clients.

From June 2018 to March 2022, the NGO has reached more than 36,000 people with GBV response and prevention services in the country. 

Out of all the women and girls who consented to discuss their experiences and were provided with case management and referral support by IRC, 54 % reported having experienced physical assault. 

Another 17 % reported denial of resources, opportunities and services by a domestic partner, 26 % reported psychological or emotional abuse, 2 % reported rape, and 1 % reported of sexual assault, including unwanted touching or rape attempts. 

An IRC report on Ramu and Chakaria found that 90% of women were survivors of violence at the hands of their partners, while 69% of women who were survivors of gender-based violence were not safe in their own homes due to violence inflicted by intimate partners and family members.

According to an analysis by the NGO, 48% of the perpetrators  of GBV in the host community  are unemployed. The economic depression due to Covid-19 and violent behaviour are closely related.

Very few reported cases on forced or early marriage have been received,  whereas the prevalence of early marriage is alarmingly high, according to various safety audits and assessments conducted by IRC.

IRC creating a dialogue among the men from rural areas to create awareness against gender based violence Courtesy

However, only a small fraction of the victims sought support to stand on their own two feet, of which 49% were referred to local volunteers for guidance. 

"I have been married for three years," an EMAP program participant and the mother of a son who sought IRC’s support, told Dhaka Tribune. 

“I was tortured at different times to bring dowry money. Unable to bear this persecution, I learned to work in the government's cottage industry project after being referred to it by the IRC,” she said.

"I had never talked to anyone before in fear that my relationship with other members of the family would be affected. However, my whole life has changed with the help of IRC,” she added.

“There were so many types of embarrassment we couldn't share with our parents,” yet another survivor and IRC beneficiary, a teenager, told Dhaka Tribune. 

Her life too was turned around with the support of IRC , and it’s local partner Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), as well as local government officials

Mofizur Rahman, chairman of Rajarkul union in Ramu upazila, said child marriage and violence against women were on the rise due to the low education rate. 

“However, with the help of various NGOs, I am now able to make people aware. At the same time, we conduct various activities to prevent violence against women through village courts,” the government official said.

Shakh Jahidur Rahman, senior program manager at the IRC, said gender-based violence exists worldwide and the IRC is working to reduce this violence. 

“Most of the time women are psychologically abused and  physically assaulted  for various reasons including child marriage, dowry, economic crisis, unemployment, patriarchal mindset of men  and power imbalance between men and women,” he said.

“We are working on these issues to reduce violence against women and girls . We follow various IRC global tested approaches, among them Engaging Man in Accountable Practices (EMAP), Girl Shine Life Skills Curriculum, and SASA (Start, Awareness, Support, Action) Together are mentionable,” Rahman added. 

“We also provide information on the sexual and reproductive health  of girls between the ages of 10 and 19. We also raise awareness through various public awareness campaigns in the project area locally with the partnership of YPSA, and funding from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA),” he further said.

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