USAID & UKAid supported Combating GBV project influenced Mr. Islam’s CSO to make lasting change in Pirojpur District
Rates of gender-based violence and early marriage remain high in Bangladesh. Women often are reticent to report incidents as well, fearful that there will be backlash and gender-based discrimination from their family and community. Increased occurrences of gender-based violence is often closely related to economic marginalization and family-level hardships. Under the Promoting Advocacy and Rights Program (PAR), Counterpart aims to support local organizations seeking to advocate for increased protections for women and children experiencing gender-based violence (GBV). In late 2019, Counterpart granted funds to the Rupantar Consortium as one of these local organizations looking to combat GBV.
Mr. Islam was selected to be a member of Vandaria Upazila GBV Platform under the Rupantar’s project “Promoting CSOs Engagement and Action Against Gender-Based Violence.” The founder of the CSO ARIC (based in Vandaria Upazila of Pirojpur district, Bangladesh), Mr. Islam stated that being involved in Rupantar’s GBV platform has his sense of social responsibility.
His organization has worked since 2004 to educate the community about clean water, sanitation, child marriage, and gender-based violence. He regularly communicates with local CSOs and encourages them to work as a network. He also builds awareness by talking to the community to explain the effects of child marriage and gender-based violence.
Recently in April of 2020, Mr. Islam had the opportunity to help a family in need. In Gouripur village of Vandaria Upazila, a local bike mechanic and father has four children, two of which are daughters. His younger daughter is only 15 and does not have the opportunity to go to school. As an alternative, her father has planned to marry her to a neighbor. In opposition to marrying her daughter off early, the mechanic’s wife attempted to persuade her husband otherwise. She was unsuccessful and punished by her husband physically for speaking out against him.
After hearing of this incident, Mr. Islam and two other local leaders visited the family’s house. Mr. Islam listened to all accounts, and then educated the family on the legal consequences of child marriage and gender-based violence. He also described the long-term effects of both social issues and urged the father to reconsider. The mechanic then apologized to all parties, recounting that he was mistaken, and pledging not to allow his daughter to be married off until she is of age.