Saturday, 16 January 2016 18:00

Addressing Violence against Women

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Addressing violence, particularly violence against women (VAW), is a key aspect of CEP's work. It does this by building community awareness and mobilising action for prevention. It also coordinates support for survivors of violence. To create a safer environment, particularly for women and children, CEP's approach involves engaging rural communities to monitor and prevent VAW towards creating a safer environment in the family and at the community level.

Stop violence initiative
Using the strong grassroots network of more than 12,000 polli shomaj facilitated by CEP, this initiative aims to identify and report on the incidents of VAW, provide survivor support services, and mobilise grassroots communities to prevent violence. This initiative is being carried out in 55 districts with emphasis in nine districts with the highest number of reported incidents. Activities under the initiative involves:

•    Identification and reporting
Polli shomaj serves as a strong network for identification and reporting of incidents of violence, particularly VAW. The reports are sent to BRAC head office within 24 hours of identification. These reports are stored in a central database which enables analysis of the data and provides directions for future action.

•    Survivor support
Coordinated support (emergency medical and legal aid, shelter homes, and rehabilitation) is provided to the survivors through collaboration with other BRAC programmes and partner organisations. The polli shomaj leaders are also sensitised on VAW-related issues so that polli shomaj can serve as shelter groups for survivors of violence. In addition, we provide professional psychosocial counselling to survivors both through individual and group counselling.

•    Mobilisation for violence prevention
CEP creates awareness among communities and mobilises them to protest and prevent VAW. To this end, polli shomaj and popular theatre plays a key role. In addition, debate and quiz competitions are arranged in educational institutions to create awareness on VAW among adolescents. Furthermore, district-level government and non-governmental service providers' coordination workshops are organised at regular intervals.

Monobondhu pilot initiative
Creating community-based psychosocial counsellors, also known as monobondhu in Bengali, is a new initiative of the programme. The community counsellors are women from polli shomaj and popular theatre groups who are trained by a professional clinical psychologist on techniques of psychosocial counselling. They provide psychosocial counselling to survivors of violence and their families, to enable them to cope with their personal suffering and societal attitudes, increase their self-esteem, and motivate and help them to socially reintegrate into their communities. This initiative started in 2013 and is set to continue until 2015, with the aim that 100 community counsellors will be formed in four districts of Bangladesh.

Monobondhu psychosocial counsellor handbook

Engaging men as partners to prevent VAW
This initiative is being implemented as a pilot to prevent VAW by engaging men and boys. It focuses on transforming the traditional notions of masculinity and gender norms that perpetuate men's violence against women. To this end, project activities are implemented through active engagement of men, adolescents and children who are boys. The duration of this pilot initiative is three years in 12 rural wards.

Leaflet: Engaging men as partners to prevent VAW

Improving the conditions for reconstruction and development in South Sudan, Yemen and Bangladesh
This project aims a larger replication of the proven local level community security model to improve public security and contribute to an environment in which peace dividends can be better realised. This four-year project is being implemented in 16 sites of five districts in the south-western region of Bangladesh, based on lessons learned and best practices of the community-based security and conflict prevention pilots. The pilot's staff will accompany communities through an action-plan process, which will enable them to identify and address their safety concerns in collaboration with others. This relies heavily on the participation and eventual leadership of the communities themselves.

Accelerating efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)
The Government of Bangladesh, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), UNDP Bangladesh and BRAC have jointly launched a new project, titled ‘accelerating efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence’ (SGBV).  The significant feature of this pilot project is a national online database on victims of violence against women (VAW).  The project respond to gaps in the institutional response to issues of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Bangladesh. Studies and researches reveal that the gaps exist mainly because incidents of SGBV in this country are usually not reported to the duty bearers, and thus remain unrecorded. The project addresses these shortcomings. It assists over 500 government officials linked through the VAW prevention network so that SGBV victims are able to solicit and receive help from service providers and also access legal and other support.  For the first time in Bangladesh, 60,000 SGBV victims will be directly connected to public and NGO support service providers through a real-time online database. It is being implemented in 425 unions of 45 sub-districts in all seven divisions of Bangladesh, based on the experience of successful interventions by the UN joint programme on VAW.

Ending child marriage at Badarganj
The project is developed as a pilot initiative to test an appropriate model for preventing child marriage in Badarganj, a sub-district of Rangpur district. The project is expected to prove the practical application of the community empowerment approach through involvement of all components of the programme. The 18-month project is aimed to change the perception of early marriage among the social and political leaders of the community; to make the relevant authorities responsive to implement the existing law against child marriage; to mobilise the adolescent groups to prevent child marriage; and to develop a network comprising all the relevant stakeholders against child marriage at Badarganj. Desired outcome of the project is expected through successful formation and mobilisation of coordination committees in different tiers of the community comprising representatives from all relevant stakeholder groups along with other awareness raising and community mobilisation activities.

Addressing violence against women and children through a coordinated approach
A number of BRAC programmes have specific activities to address violence against women and children (VaWC) through their programmatic interventions. The programmes have been working separately without any common framework for combating VaWC. The project ‘addressing violence against women and children through a coordinated approach’ was developed as a pilot initiative. It presents a coordinated approach to address VAWC, based on the gaps identified in the four programme’s ‘silo’ approach. Objectives of the project are to develop a scalable and comprehensive mechanism to reduce VaWC – one that can be mainstreamed across all BRAC programmes. It ensures a survivor’s access to need-based comprehensive support services and protection of their rights and to document and disseminate learning and good practices from BRAC interventions to combat VAWC in Bangladesh. The project is being piloted in the districts of Comilla and Gazipur and has a duration of three years (January 2015 - December 2017). The project activities address three domains – prevention, protection and social re-integration. Based on the success of the project, this approach can potentially serve as a broader organisational framework for combating VAWC through combined efforts of all BRAC programmes. CEP has been serving as the secretariat of the project. 



Handbook for community organisations to prevent violence against women
"No place is safe -Sexual abuse of children in rural Bangladesh" Article on Child Rape based on CEP reports
Lessons Learned Report of Community Safety Project


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