On 10 December 2020, the Gender Working Group of GIZ Bangladesh hosted “Voices against Violence”, marking the conclusion of this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign. The international campaign began on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and continued until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has resulted in a significant rise of violent acts against women and children at their homes and often by their partners and close relatives. The discussion focused on the nature and reasons of violence amidst a pandemic, and what to do if we face or observe such acts.
The event was organised via Microsoft Teams, with around one hundred GIZ Bangladesh colleagues joining from Bangladesh and Germany. Dr Angelika Fleddermann, Country Director, set the tone for the event in her welcome note.
Over these 16 days, GIZ Bangladesh staff have shared photographs of themselves holding their pledges against violence – which were compiled into a short video and screened during the event.
This was followed by the keynote speech, by Dr. Tania Haque, an esteemed professor of the Department of Women and Gender Studies, University of Dhaka. She talked about the socio-economic dimensions of gendered violence that provided valuable insights for the listeners.
Next Ms. Kaniz Fatema, and Mr. Sandwip Kumar Mondol, shared a presentation on Violence against Women and Children during Covid-19. Their presentation began with a roleplay, depicting how a trifle issue can escalate into violence with the woman in the household at the receiving end. The presentation also highlighted pertinent statistics, case studies, and real-life experiences of verbal and physical abuse – faced by women from all walks of life. There were stories that enraged the participants , like that of Ms. Rumana Manzur, a Dhaka University teacher, whose abusive husband blinded her, and that of hope, like the example of Sadat Rahman, a young man who has made a cyber solution against bullies.
Various government hotline numbers and details of emergency services were also shared to enable everyone to be strong in the face of violence and raise their voices against violence and not just be a passive bystander.
The event ended with Ms. Nusrat Jahan encouraging participants to leave notes on the digital whiteboard. The whiteboard, full of pledges of resilience and empathy, demonstrated GIZ’s firm stand against any form of violence.
Ananya Rubayat has written the article
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