In Bangladesh, the stigma surrounding violence against women means that many women do not get the justice they deserve. Bearing that in mind, the Barishal Youth Society (BYS) has been working to stop child marriages and help female victims of domestic violence, with 10,000 members and 800 active volunteers in different ways since 2014.
Last year, BYS successfully stopped 257 child marriages and helped 109 female survivors of domestic violence to take legal measures against their offenders. They further contributed to the progress of these women by creating employment opportunities for nineteen of them through a vocational training programme. The community has been working with over 1,400 female teenagers and 650 adult women in over six districts in the Barishal division. “When these women and children are safe and sound, it feels like we have changed their world. This is what inspires us the most,” says Faez Belal, the founder of BYS.
Along with building a safe environment for women and girls, BYS works to equip them with the power of education. Through their initiative, a number of girls have appeared in the HSC (14) and SSC (7) examinations. They have also arranged computer training sessions for over 500 rural women and plan to conduct such skill-based programmes on a broader scale soon. BYS also operates 24 'Girl Empowerment' support centres, where legal advice and awareness campaigns on education and skill-based vocational diplomas are conducted for women. However, their most successful initiative was the Youth Fest held in 2017, through which they emphasised on women's rights, and educated 5,000 girls about the negative consequences of child marriage.
They were also awarded with the Joy Bangla Youth Award 2017 for building a better and safer society.