Women live a life free of violence

Students participating in a flash mob dance during student activation in Rajshahi University for 16 Days of Activism, 4 December 2018, Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Photo: Fahad Kaizer
Students participating in a flash mob dance during student activation in Rajshahi University for 16 Days of Activism, 4 December 2018, Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Photo: Fahad Kaizer

The issue

Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic, widespread human rights violation worldwide. Violence against women is a global pandemic, embedded in unequal power dynamics between women and men that is reinforced by harmful social norms or inequality under the law.

In Bangladesh, despite the progress made so far in terms of the normative and policy framework, the incidence of violence against women and girls is still very high:

  • One in five adolescent girls between the age of 15 to 19 reported experiencing partner sexual violence[1];
  • More than 80 per cent of currently married women are abused at least once during their marriage, most often from someone they know and should trust[2];
  • More than one in four women experience sexual or physical violence[3];
  • 76 per cent female students in higher education institutions faced sexual harassment in their education campus[4];
  • Seven out of ten women (73 per cent) have experienced domestic violence at least once in their life[5];
  • Only 2.6 per cent of women took legal action for partner physical or sexual violence[6].

Over the last few decades, the Country adopted laws and policies meant to promote gender equality and address violence against women and girls, such as the Women's Development Policy, followed by the National Action Plan in 2011, the 2009 High Court's Directive on sexual harassment, the Women and Child Repression Suppression Act, and Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act. Furthermore, the National Action Plan on violence against women and children was revised and launched in November 2018.

Despite this progress, violence against women and girls is still rampant. The normative system needs to be strengthened and implemented; there is a strong need for capacity building of institutions, coupled with education and awareness of the drivers, types and consequences of violence against women and girls. Cooperation between the state and non-state actors, both in policy making and in-service provision, in response to violence, needs to be improved with the aim to eliminate violence against women and to increase access of survivors to the appropriate judiciary and other services.

 

Student Campaign Group in East West University showing their commitment to end violence for 16 Days of Activism, 3 Dec 2018, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Fahad Kaizer
Student Campaign Group in East West University showing their commitment to end violence for 16 Days of Activism, 3 Dec 2018, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Fahad Kaizer

How we are making a difference?

UN Woman’s work on ending violence against women intends to look at the key drivers of violence and address them with the final aim of preventing violence before it occurs.

The work on prevention aims at understanding and addressing the root causes, the risk and protective factors contributing to violence with the final aim of transforming the believes, attitudes and behaviors that fuel violence.

UN Women works with women and men at community level to promote behavior change by introducing alternative and transformed social norms and a more equitable distribution of power and resources between women and men.

Coupled with this, we are working to strengthen the policy and legal framework. We work with private and public institutions to ensure measures to prevent violence against women are properly adopted and monitored so that violence is prevented at work and in tertiary education. We also work with civil society organization and women’s movements to strengthen women’s voice and agency to make duty bearers accountable to ensure implementation of violence related laws and policies.

Engaging with youth, especially university and college students to raise awareness and prevent violence in campuses and increase the capacity of university staff to address sexual harassment is also key strategy in this work.

While focusing on prevention and protection, our strategies are anchored in the understanding and vision that intervention are not to be implemented in isolation but rather though a participatory and multi-faceted approach, where women and girls are at the centre of every decision.


  1. Hidden in Plain Sight, UNICEF, 2014.
  2. National VAWG Survey, 2015.
  3. National VAWG Survey, 2015.
  4. UN Women Situation Analysis 2013.
  5. National VAWG Survey, 2015.
  6. National VAWG Survey, 2015.
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