The project was launched in Dhaka on Tuesday
Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK), a non-government legal aid and human rights organization,has officially launched a project titled “ASTHA” to increase utilization of multispectral response services for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV).
With the aim to contribute to government and civil society organization (CSO) efforts to reduce gender-based violence, ASK launched its ASTHA project at CIRDAP in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The Embassy of the Netherlands is funding the project, while UNFPA will provide technical support for its implementation.The four-year project was unofficially launched in 2017.
In cooperation with local partners, such as Shushilan, Gana Unnayan Kendra and YPSA, ASTHA is already working in four districts of Bangladesh,namely Bogra, Patuakhali, Jamalpur, and Cox’s Bazar.
Sheepa Hafiza, executive director of ASK, and Nasima Begum,secretary of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs,presided over the program as chief guests.
Sheepa Hafiza said ASTHA is supporting women and girls who are either at risk or survivors of gender-based violence.
“In Bangladesh, incidents of gender-based violence are consistently high. Most of the victims are reluctant to report such atrocity. With this project,we are providing quality service through court help desks and women's help desks, so that they can share their bitter experiences for legal support”, she added.
Nasima Begum said if women and girls stand up and speak against gender-based violence, then it would be possible to develop education and communication materials required to raise awareness against violence.
“We have to change our mindset, and of course by showing respect towards our partners,establish a violence-free society”, she added.
UNFPA deputy representative Eiko Narita said physical violence is visible, but psychological trauma is invisible. Girls who encounter such violence need counselling for their mental well-being, and there, the ASTHA project will help the girls.
Harry Verweij, ambassador of the Netherlands, Dr Sania Tahmina, director of Disease Control Unit and line director at the Directorate General of Health Service, Abeda Akther, joint secretary of Ministry of Social Welfare, Zafrul Hassan, director of National Legal Aid Services Organization, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, also spoke at the event.