UNFPA to boost partnership with Prothom Alo to prevent violence against women

UNFPA Bangladesh representative Kristine Blokhus paid a courtesy call on Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman on WednesdayProthom Alo

The number of complaints is quite lower as compared to the number of incidents of violence against women. Many women do not come to the police due to social norms and lengthy judicial processes. To change the situation, we need to enhance and strengthen the related services to gain the confidence of women to give them the courage to file complaints over violence against women.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Bangladesh representative Kristine Blokhus said this while paying a courtesy call on Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman at the Prothom Alo office in the capital’s Karwan Bazar Wednesday.

She expressed hope to strengthen partnership with Prothom Alo to prevent violence against women.

Matiur Rahman mentioned about the initiatives taken by the Prothom Alo Trust and its education scholarships to prevent acid violence, early marriage, and violence against women and to ensure higher education for girl children during the meeting.

He also mentioned the campaign - ‘Katha Hok’ (let’s talk), a joint initiative of UNFPA and Prothom Alo, to ensure the rights for the girls.

Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman presented UNFPA Bangladesh representative Kristine Blokhus a memorandum after the meeting
Prothom Alo

The Prothom Alo stated that the length of this initiative is only three months. It can be run throughout the year. He said the youth now is online-centric. So, larger interactive campaigns can be launched in the future, he proposed.

Kristine Blokhus expressed hope to have a long term partnership with Prothom Alo in the fight to prevent violence against women. In this case, a combination of Prothom Alo’s high credibility and readership and the work competence of the UNFPA can play a big role to set the future programmes, she observed.

In response to a question, Kristine Blokhus said the UNFPA financed a study of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) on violence against women and provided necessary technical assistance in 2015. It was seen at the time that only 1 per cent of the women subjected to violence had lodged a complaint. This rate is quite concerning. Women will have the confidence to lodge complaints if we can strengthen the programmes.

The UNFPA has financed another BBS study and also has provided technical assistance, she said adding that the UNFPA has more work to do in Bangladesh as compared to other countries. The UNFPA stresses on opening up about women's health, education, empowerment and any sorts of violence against them.

She said there are some social customs, such as early marriage and prioritising boys over girls, that undermine women and we need to raise our voice against these. The UNFPA is working in different parts of the country to prevent this.

The Bangladesh government is also working on preventing violence against women, but there is still a long way to go, she remarked.

UNFPA public relations head Asma Akter, gender division official Abu Naser, Prothom Alo associate editor Shumana Sharmin and others were present in the meeting.