What the UN is doing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 10, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 10, 2015

What the UN is doing

Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. GBV undermines the health, security, autonomy and, ultimately, thedignityof its victims. And yet, it remains largely shrouded in a culture of silence and denial. GBV is largely a result of prevalent social norms and practices. Ensuring social and behaviour change through increased social awareness and community mobilization is therefore a critical aspect of intervention that can help in addressing the structural causes of violence in society. Joint Action from Government, civil society, families and individuals, and development partners is needed. 



2011 Survey on violence against women (VAW)in partnership with the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics brought to light that as many as 82 percent of women reported experiencing emotional, physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.The second generation VAW survey with EU funding, is underway.

Advocacy for use of BBS GIS mapping by Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief to better and faster estimate affected people within the first 24 hours of a disaster hitting, critical for saving lives.

Strongly advocating for the establishment of a GBV sub-cluster under the humanitarian architecture of the country, as required by the internationally agreed humanitarian SPHERE standards.

A joint project with the Police, aims to include GBV and child marriage information in the Criminal Database Management System of the police, for a systematic documentation of GBV cases.

With UNICEF, supporting MoWCA in the development of a costed National Plan of Action to drastically reduce child marriage by 2021 and fully eliminate it by 2041, in line with the country's own targets and commitment at the highest level.

With Dhaka University generating evidence on the causes and consequences of child marriage and how best these causes can be addressed in programming.


The Human Rights of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) project, addresses gaps in reporting of GBV cases, by establishing a comprehensive national online database on VAW linked to victim responses and referral support service centres. The project is implemented in 431 Unions under 46 Upazillas in all seven divisions of Bangladesh and replicated nationwide by MoWCA and BRAC. The VAW database registers all reported cases, following registration, the status and action taken is recorded, and subsequently monitored and tracked by relevant victim support service providers and ministry officials.


Co-convener, together with MoWCA of the Gender Working Group that brings together Government, development partners and civil society on a platform that also addresses critical GBV issues.

Through its ongoing project on Building Capacity to End Violence Against Women in University Campuses, UN Women conducted a comprehensive baseline assessments and studies on prevalence, attitudes and perceptions about violence against women and experience of sexual harassment and/ or assault. Results reveal that approximately 76% had experienced sexual harassment and/ or assault; and 90% of students did not know about the 2009 High Court Directives on Sexual Harassment.



The Department of Women's Affairs has been supported to establish One-Stop-Crisis-Centers, where medical officers and counsellors provide medical and psychological support to victims and referral services to the police and to Women's Support Shelters.

Police officers have been trained to deal with traumatized victims and correctly identify cases of GBV. 15 dedicated Women Help Desks in police stations around the country have been established and Standard Operating Procedures have been developed which are now in use in most police stations.

Working with the Police Staff College in Mirpur a comprehensive training module on Gender and GBV to sensitize and train future police officers across the country has been implemented.

Working in partnership with the BGMEA to change gender norms among garment employers, supervisors and employees, by providing all personnel in 40 selected factories with comprehensive trainings related to GBV and sexual and reproductive health.

Successful advocacy and technical assistance has led to the Ministry of Labour and Employment includes provisions on sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and GBV in the Bangladesh Labour Rule.


Addresses women's access to justice, looking into the low rate of reporting of GBV cases. The project focuses on reasons for the low rates of conviction in VAW cases as well as inconsistencies in the legal framework aiming to provide evidence on how to improve the legal sector's response to GBV.


To support women migrants who became victims of GBV in destination countries and in Bangladesh IOM in partnership with the Governments of Bangladesh, Norway and Denmark, established KafeMukti - a public-private project to empower victims of trafficking and abuse by giving them a source of income.

In March 2014, the Department of Women's Affairs (DWA) included KafeMukti in its Joyeeta program.This aims to improve survivors' capacity to create and run establishments and increasing business development support from the public and private sectors.

A one year pilot project called Ashshash is now underway to support trafficking victims through skills training, psychosocial counselling and entrepreneurial engagement in small-scale, service-oriented businesses.



The "Generation Breakthrough" project funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and, in partnership with MOWCA and the MoEgender equality concepts and a culture of peace among adolescents is introduced. The project works with adolescent boys and girls, and includes community leaders and influential stakeholders. It uses innovative and participatory approaches for and by adolescents to break through the taboos around GBV and SRHR and focuses on respectful, equal, consensual and healthy relationship building. A key component of the project is the Gender Equity Movement in Schools (GEMS) module, which will be communicated to all adolescents.

Responding to GBV in humanitarian response through pre-positioning of clean delivery and dignity kits and advocating for the inclusion of the internationally agreed Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP), into primary health care.  MISP is a set of life-saving activities that include measures to prevent and manage the consequences of sexual violence, reduce HIV transmission, prevent maternal and newborn death and illness and plan for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.

Mitigating the detrimental effects of child marriage by focusing on the provision of sexual and reproductive health information and services to married adolescents to delay the first pregnancy and space the second pregnancy. 

Addressing social and behavioural change through the development of the cartoon 'Shahana' focusing on the importance of empowering adolescent girls and subsequently delaying their age of marriage.       


Working with the University Grants Commission and four universities to empower students, faculty, and administrators to implement the 2009 High Court directive against sexual harassment in the workplaces and in public places. The project aims to develop Effective Measures to Prevent Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institutions.

Through the use of Culture/Theatre in Dhaka and three district University campuses, UN Women encourages and fosters open discussions to raise awareness of GBV and sexual harassment and its consequences.


Violence against children and women are a violation of their rights and in contradiction to international human rights conventions and treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In Bangladesh, the fact that 52 percent of children were married before the age of 18 (MICS 2013) continues to be of concern, as globally, there is evidence of the fact that child brides are at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.

In cooperation with UN Women joint work to prevent violence against girls, especially the lack of safety and security for young girls in Bangladesh will be addressed, as this is seen as a main reason for child marriage. By promoting gender equitable role models within the household and creating safer communities barriers for adolescent girls to participate and lead in all aspects of life will be removed.

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